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Former Laker assistant coach Frank Hamblen dies in Del Mar

Frank Hamblen

DEL MAR – Former Los Angeles Laker assistant coach Frank Hamblen, who helped coach Phil Jackson win seven NBA titles, five with the Lakers, died Saturday at age 70.

Hamblen succumbed Saturday morning to a heart attack in Del Mar, according to a Laker statement.

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.

“The Lakers family is saddened by the loss of long-time (assistant) coach Frank Hamblen, who has passed away…,” 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,” retired Laker legend Kobe Bryant said in a Twitter post.

“Frank Hamblen was a great coach and a good friend” Laker 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.”

Hamblen — a native of Terre Haute, Indiana who is enshrined in the Indiana basketball Hall of Fame — coached for six NBA teams during his career.