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OU basketball: Former coach John MacLeod dies at 81

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Former Oklahoma basketball coach John MacLeod died at age 81. MacLeod also coached the Phoenix Suns for 14 seasons after his career at OU. [AP Photo/Joe Raymond]
Former Oklahoma basketball coach John MacLeod died at age 81. MacLeod also coached the Phoenix Suns for 14 seasons after his career at OU. [AP Photo/Joe Raymond]

John MacLeod, who served six seasons as the Oklahoma men's basketball coach from 1968-73, died Sunday at the age of 81.

MacLeod's 90 victories at OU are the eighth-most in school history.

“Our program is saddened to hear of John MacLeod's passing,” OU coach Lon Kruger said in a statement. “Coach MacLeod had a tremendous impact on Oklahoma basketball and the game as a whole. He coached with class at both the collegiate level and in the NBA. Our Sooner family mourns with the MacLeod family during this difficult time.”

MacLeod's success in Norman propelled him to the NBA, where he became the most-winning coach in Phoenix Suns history. MacLeod coached the Suns from 1973-1987 with a trip to the NBA Finals in 1976.

"His passion for the game was matched only by his endearing personality, humility and class," the Suns said in a statement. "Coach MacLeod was a winner in every sense and will be dearly missed by our entire Phoenix Suns family."

MacLeod was responsible for recruiting Alvan Adams to OU, and then the two spent much of their professional careers together with the Suns. Adams, a Putnam City High School graduate, was named NBA Rookie of the Year in 1976.

MacLeod spent brief stints with the Dallas Mavericks and New York Knicks before coaching the final eight years of his career at Notre Dame from 1991-99.

"John MacLeod was not only a good coach, but was a man of great integrity and as good of a person you could ever meet," Dick Vitale wrote in a tweet. "We need more like him in college basketball."

Joe Mussatto

Joe Mussatto joined The Oklahoman in August 2018 to cover OU football, men’s basketball and softball. He previously covered University of Kentucky football and basketball for SEC Country. Mussatto is from Oklahoma City and lives in Norman. Read more ›

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