Tom Nissalke, who won coach of the year honors in the NBA and ABA, died Thursday in Salt Lake City after facing a “series of health-related problems,” the Deseret News reported. He was 87.
The Madison native was the first coach of the Utah Jazz after the franchise relocated from New Orleans in 1979. Nissalke was also an NBA head coach in Seattle, Houston and Cleveland, winning the NBA’s Coach of the Year award with the Rockets in 1976-77.
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Nissalke got his start in the pro ranks as an assistant with the Milwaukee Bucks and helped guide a team featuring Oscar Robertson and Lew Alcindor to an NBA title in 1971.