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Suns all-time winningest head coach John MacLeod dies at 81

(Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

John MacLeod, who took the Phoenix Suns to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history and is their all-time winningest head coach, has died, the team announced Sunday.

MacLeod, 81, was battling Alzheimer’s for the past 11 years.

“We are saddened today to learn of the passing of Suns Ring of Honor member and all-time winningest head coach, John MacLeod,” the team said in a statement.

MacLeod coached the Suns from 1973-87, winning 579 games and reaching the NBA Finals during the 1975-76 season.

The 1975-76 team’s road to the NBA Finals was nothing short of spectacular.

The “Sunderella Suns” finished 42-40 in the regular season, but got hot in the postseason and made it to the finals after defeating the 59-win Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.

Phoenix eventually lost in six games in the finals to the John Havlicek-led Boston Celtics.

MacLeod was inducted into the Suns’ Ring of Honor for his contributions to the organization in April 2012.

“His passion for the game was matched only by his endearing personality, humility and class, a man who was loved by everyone that had the pleasure of interacting with him. Coach MacLeod was a winner in every sense and will be dearly missed by our entire Phoenix Suns family,” the Suns said in their statement.

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