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First Utah Jazz head coach dies at age 87

FILE - Jan. 17, 2014. Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The first head coach of the Utah Jazz after the team first moved to Utah has died.

Tom Nissalke, 87, passed away at his home in Salt Lake on Thursday, according to the Deseret News.

The Wisconson native was selected by the Jazz to help the struggling franchise after it relocated to Utah after spending 5 years in New Orleans.

Nissalke coached the American Basketball Association’s Dallas Chaparrals (1971-72) and Utah Stars  (1974-76) before joining the NBA, where he coached the Houston Rockets (1976-77). He also coached San Antonio when it was still an ABA franchise.

Nissalke was the Chairman and CEO of the Salt Lake Chapter of the YMCA for decades and was instrumental in creating after-school programs in Salt Lake and Weber Counties.

He is survived by daughter Holly, son Thomas Jr., and two grandchildren. His wife, Nancy, passed away in 2006.