Members of the Los Angeles Lakers organization are mourning former assistant coach Frank Hamblen, who died of a heart attack Saturday at age 70.

“The Lakers family is saddened by the loss of long-time asst coach Frank Hamblen, who has passed away at age 70,” the team tweeted Saturday from its official account.

“Thank u Coach Frank for your deep understanding of the game, your patience & for challenging me to defend @ the highest level. I will miss u,” tweeted retired Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.

“Frank Hamblen was a great coach and a good friend” Lakers Head Coach Luke Walton said. “He was not only beloved by everyone in the Lakers organization but by those in the NBA community as well. Frank coached me as a rookie and in addition to all I learned from him on the court, he also emphasized how important it was to enjoy life off the court as well. My thoughts and prayers go out to Frank’s family.”

He died Saturday morning in Del Mar, a Lakers’ statement said.

Hamblen was one of former Lakers coach Phil Jackson’s top assistants, coming to the team in 1999 after a stint with the Chicago Bulls. He worked for the Lakers from 1999 to 2011, and was briefly the Lakers’ interim head coach in 2005.

He was by Jackson’s side for two NBA championships with the Bulls and all five of the titles the Lakers won under Jackson, in 2000-02 and 2009-10.

Hamblen, who was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, and is a member of the Indiana basketball Hall of Fame, coached for six NBA teams during his career.

—City News Service

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