Mark E. Eaton (born January 24, 1957, in Inglewood, California) is a retired American professional basketball player who was a member of the NBA's Utah Jazz from 1982 to 1994. He was famous for his giant frame (7-foot-4, 290 pounds) and his strong defense.
Eaton transferred to University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1980, but did not see much action in his two seasons with the Bruins. In his senior season, he played just 42 total minutes, averaging 1.3 points and 2.0 rebounds in 11 games.
Eaton continued to improve in his second season with the Jazz. In 82 games, he grabbed a team-leading 595 rebounds and blocked 351 shots (breaking his own franchise record). His 4.28 blocks per game led the NBA, well ahead of Rollins (who finished second with 3.60 blocks per game). Eaton's strong defense helped the Jazz make their first-ever playoff appearance.
During Eaton's third season (1984-85), he blocked 456 shots, shattering the NBA record for most blocked shots in a single season (Elmore Smith blocked 393 shots for the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1973-74 season). Eaton averaged 5.56 blocks per game, leading the league by a wide margin (Houston's Hakeem Olajuwon finished second with 2.68 blocks per game). In addition, Eaton averaged 11.3 rebounds per game, ranking fifth in the league in that category. For his efforts, he was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team and was honored as the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year.
Although he was not a significant offensive contributor, the Jazz relied heavily on Eaton for his shot-blocking, rebounding abilities, and occasional "tippy toe" dunks. With the emergence of superstars Karl Malone and John Stockton, the Jazz became one of the best teams in the NBA. Eaton's stifling defense was a major factor in Utah's success. He continued to rank among NBA leaders in blocked shots, leading the league in 1986-87 and 1987-88. In 1988-89, he averaged 10.3 rebounds per game (seventh in the NBA) and 3.84 blocks per game. He was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year for the second time in his career, and was also named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team (for the third time in his career). In addition, he was chosen to play in the 1989 NBA All-Star Game, joining teammates Malone and Stockton on the Western Conference team.
In his last few seasons with the Jazz, Eaton was slowed by knee and back injuries. He remained an imposing defensive presence, but his rebounding and shot-blocking abilities slowly declined. In his last season (1992-93), he played in only 64 games, averaging just 17.3 minutes per game.
To honor his contributions to the team, the Utah Jazz retired Eaton's jersey number 53 during the 1995-96 regular season.
He founded and served as chairman of the Mark Eaton Standing Tall for Youth organization, which provided sports and outdoor activities for at-risk children in Utah. He is a motivational speaker.