Mark Eaton, all 7' 4" - Interview with Jazz legend - Part Two

More thanks to Mark for this interview. Here's the first interview about his career as a motivational speaker and his upcoming movie.

Up next is Mark's thoughts on the Jazz and his career in the NBA. So without further ado...

SLCDunk.com - You're one of the most prolific defensive players and shot blockers the game has ever known. Defense seems to be a dying breed in the league today. Is a defensive game detrimental to the league?

Mark Eaton - Defense is what wins, we saw that in the Celtics last spring. People will complain about it because not [enough] points are being scored, but nobody cares how many points you score on a losing team. Winning takes defense, it's that simple.

With the recent controversies in the game, what's the best way for the league to repair its image?

The best way for the league to repair its image is to simply focus on the game. People will forget the scandals in short order when they are excited about watching the game again. The problem of course is the press likes to focus on the negative. The league is very healthy and worldwide has a tremendous image. Look at the reception Kobe received in Beijing.

Most fans would say the Jazz this year are just one backup defensive center away from being a favorite for the title. Would you agree with that? Is there something else they need? Or are they fine where they're at?

The Jazz do have a deficiency at the defensive end of the floor and I would agree that some shoring up in that department would be in order. The challenge always is what do you have to give up to get that kind of player. It's always a balancing act but Kevin O'Connor will make a move if the right deal comes along.

Speaking of backup defensive centers, are you available for about 10-15 minutes a game?

No my odometer is too high!

Here's a comment from my site from a regular poster, "If we had Mark Eaton in his prime on this team, we would win 70 games and the championship." The 70 wins might be a little bit of a stretch, but would the Jazz be the favorites to win it all with the Mark Eaton of 1984-85?

Sometimes I think I'm a better player now than when I actually played! Thank you for the kind comment but until Jeff Hornacek arrived I don't think we had all the pieces. Unfortunately by then my career was over. But I do think I would have made a difference in 97 and 98 when the jazz went to the Finals.

What was your most satisfying block(s)?

I especially enjoyed blocking shots late in a game against big players like Larry Bird or Charles Barkley. But my favorite was trying to stop Hakeem Olajuwon. He would get so mad when I blocked his shot!

Shaq announced that he's going to retire in two years when his contract is done. As the former President of the NBA Retired Players Association, how would Shaq handle that position?

He would probably walk up on stage and announce, "There's a new Sheriff in town!"

The inevitable coaching question... Your motivational techniques are from basketball and playing as a team. Would those transition back to coaching players today? Do you have any desire to coach (not necessarily at the NBA level)?

Some things in life don't change and the core components of a team are one of them. Jerry Sloan is still preach in the same things to players today that he taught us 20 years ago and utilized himself as a player in the 60s. Some things don't change

It also seems like those same skills would work well as a manager for a professional athlete. Any desire to do that?

I can barely manage myself. I don't know about trying to manage a professional athlete today. Looks like a lot of work!

In a USA Today interview a couple of years ago, you talk about the need for the league to return to basketball fundamentals. Is Coach Sloan the last of the fundamental coaches?

No, I don't think so. If you look at some of the younger coaches in the league they are all preaching the same things. No amount of showmanship or high-flying dunks will ever overcome fundamentals.

There's a famous scene from Airplane where Kareem, playing Roger Murdock, states, "Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes." Who did you hate running up and down the floor against?

Hakeem and Robert Parish because I could never catch them!

Beards are the trend again now in the NBA. I have to say I was taken back a bit when I watched a video of your highlights on your site and there was one with you without a beard. I don't think in all my years watching you play I've seen you sans beard. What was the motivation to growing that out? And how does Deron Williams' beard compare to yours?

D. Will has more of a GQ kind of beard and it looks very good. My beard was more for intimidation purposes. I started growing it because I got a few stitches in my chin and the doctor said don't shave for a few days, so I didn't shave for about 10 years.

Karl Malone recently opened another car dealership with a shrine of his memorabilia. Given your mechanic and car salesman background, I'm surprised you don't have your own dealership yet. Is that something you've ever wanted to pursue?

I love cars and actually sold cars in junior college to pay the rent. I have thought about that a few times but it never seemed to be in the cards.

Who are your starting five (and 6th man) of all-time Jazz players?

John Stockton and Jeff Hornacek at guards, Karl Malone at power forward, Adrian Dantley at small forward, myself at center, and Thurl Bailey off the bench.

Loved you when you were with KJZZ. Any chance or talk of you returning in any capacity?

Not at this time. I actually enjoy speaking to businesses and organizations a little more because of the depth of the conversations.

You've obviously decided to make Utah your home after retiring. What made you stay instead of going back to California?

I love the mountains and would rather dodge Moose on the way home from work rather than angry drivers on the San Diego Freeway!

Anything else you would like to say to your fans, NBA and otherwise?

Thanks for all your support over the years, don't forget to eat at Tuscany and Francks when you were are in Salt Lake, and encourage your boss to invite me to come speak to your team!

Thanks one more time Mark for the awesome interview. Looking forward to the movie coming out. And I'll have to take the wife out to one of your restaurants.

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