John MacLeod, who coached 18 seasons in the NBA, including 14 guiding the Phoenix Suns, and also coached 14 seasons in college, died Sunday morning, the team announced Sunday. He was 81.

MacLeod battled Alzheimer's disease for 11 years, according to

"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 won 707 games in the NBA, including 579 for Phoenix, and is perhaps best remembered for leading the team to the 1976 NBA Finals.

Fired in February 1987 by the Suns, MacLeod was hired by the Dallas Mavericks four months later and spent three years in Dallas, going 96-79 and making the playoffs in his first season there.

Dallas fired him in November 1989 and, he was hired in December 1990 by the New York Knicks, for whom he went 32-35.

MacLeod's college career bookended his time in the NBA. He coached Oklahoma for six seasons (1967-73), going 90-69.

After being let go by the Knicks, he spent eight seasons at Notre Dame (1991-99), finishing with a 106-124 record as the Fighting Irish transitioned from an independent school into a Big East member.

The 1975-76 Phoenix squad, dubbed the "Sunderella Suns," were five years removed from a playoff appearance and began the season 18-27 before finishing up 42-40, then defeating the Seattle SuperSonics 4-2 and the Golden State Warriors 4-3 to make the NBA Finals.

The Suns lost to the Boston 4-2 in the NBA Finals, in a series that included a triple-overtime loss in Game 5.

--Field Level Media

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