Chris Ford, a longtime NBA coach and the player credited for making the NBA’s first 3-point basket, passed away on Wednesday, his family confirmed in a statement. He was 74.
As the Celtics were the ones to break the news to the public, so it was. The statement said Ford passed away on Tuesday, but gave no official cause of death. According to the Press of Atlantic City, he passed away from a heart attack in Philadelphia earlier this month.
“All who knew and worked with Chris grew to adore him. He was deeply devoted to his loved ones, his hometown of Boston, his adoring fans, and his Celtics’ teammates “According to the family statement. A man of great humility and respect for all who were blessed to cross his path in life.
In his first year with the Boston Bruins, Ford was chosen as the team’s most valuable player. After hanging up his sneakers after the 1981–82 season, he spent the next seven years (1983–1990) as an assistant coach for the Boston Celtics, where he was responsible for mentoring former teammates Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish to two championships (1984 and 1986) under head coach K.C. Jones.
Joining Bill Russell, Tom Heinsohn, and Jones, he is one of only four former Celtics to win titles as both a player and coach.
In a statement, the Celtics said, “As a player and coach, Chris Ford’s career spanned over a decade of Celtics basketball, and he made his imprint at every turn.” “Doc,” as he was known by his teammates, was a fundamentally versatile all-around guard. The Boston Celtics express its sincere regrets to the Ford family and their many friends.”
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Ford, who was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, led Villanova to the 1970 NCAA Elite Eight and 1971 NCAA Final Four. During his three years with the Wildcats, he scored 1,433 points. His 238 assists in 1970–71 remain the school record for a single season.
Jay Wright, who coached at Villanova University before he was fired, tweeted a picture of Ford wearing the Wildcats’ outfit and called him his “boyhood idol.”
The ad described him as “a creative, gifted tough (Villanova) guard.” “When I knew him, he was a fantastic human being, a dependable friend, and a fervent alumnus of (Villanova University). Everybody at VU has a lot of respect for Chris. To put it simply, I will miss our conversations.”
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The Detroit Pistons picked Ford in the 1972 NBA draught. He was with the team for six years before being moved to the Boston Celtics. In his debut season with the Celtics, 1978–1979, he set career highs in scoring (15.6) and passing (4.7) per game. On the opening night of the next season (Oct. 12, 1979), he made the first 3-point shot in NBA history, helping the Boston Celtics beat the Houston Rockets.
Ford took over for Jimmy Rodgers as Celtics coach and coached the team for five seasons (1990-1995).
As the Bruins’ head coach, he oversaw a 222-188 record and four trips to the playoffs, although his squads never made it past the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Milwaukee Bucks (1996-1998) and the Los Angeles Clippers (1998-2000) each employed Ford as their head coach for two years (1998-2000). He was an assistant coach with the Philadelphia 76ers at the start of the 2003–04 season and took over for the final 30 games of the year when Randy Ayers was let go.