Passings: Jerry Marvin, 87; Former PaliHi Coach

Jerry Marvin, who coached the boys basketball team at Palisades High from 1961 to 1991, died on August 27 after a long illness. The longtime Pacific Palisades resident was 87.

Marvin had coached five years at Bell High before coming to PaliHi the year the school opened. His team won Pali’s only City Section basketball championship in 1969, and according to the L.A. Times, he finished with a career record of 284-130 at the school.

Along the way, Marvin coached Chris Marlowe (now the TV announcer for the Denver Nuggets), Chip Engelland (the longtime shooting coach for the San Antonio Spurs), and three future NBA players: Kiki Vandeweghe (who played for the New York Knicks and is now executive VP, basketball operations, for the NBA; Derek Strong, who played for three teams; and Steve Kerr, who played on five NBA championship teams and has won two more titles as coach of the Golden State Warriors.

“The only thing I’ve been crazy about is basketball,” Marvin told the L.A. Times when he retired. He said he was leaving not because he no longer loved the game, but because the game—and athletics in general—had gotten out of control. He said attitudes towards coaches had changed since he played for his father, the late A.J. Marvin, Sr. at University High in the late 1940s. His father had coached from 1931 to 1962.

“You’ve got kids who are told they’re going to play in the NBA and they can’t make the B team,” Marvin told the Times. “How are they going to fit into society? It’s tough on a coach, but it’s even tougher on the kids. I think athletics is really out of control.”

What matters, Marvin said, is working to bring out the chemistry in team, getting players to know each other’s moves, and getting them to resist taking bad shot and pass to the open man instead. He said chemistry was a hallmark of his City championship team, which beat Reseda at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion.

Jim Paleno served six years as Marvin’s assistant and then coached Palisades for 22 seasons after his mentor retired.

“He was just an unbelievable human being,” Paleno told the Times on August 29. “He had the capacity to make anyone laugh. He’s a legend in City Section basketball. He was a great person.”

When Kerr won the NBA’s 2015-2016 Coach of the Year award, he was joined on stage by his college coach, Lute Olson—and by Jerry Marvin.

The coach is survived by his wife, Gaelyn, a 1976 PaliHi graduate; his daughter, Ruth Webster; his son Conner, a freshman at Pali; and granddaughters Emma and Kate.

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