Chris Ford died on Wednesday, his family said in a statement. He was a member of the Boston Celtics’ 1981 championship team, a longtime NBA coach and the player who scored the league’s first 3-point basket. He was 74.
The family told the Celtics about the death. The statement said Ford died on Tuesday but did not say why. The Press of Atlantic City said he died in Philadelphia this month after a heart attack.
“Chris’s family, friends and teammates greatly liked him. He loved his family, the city of Boston, the fans and the rest of the Celtics family very much, “the family said. “He was always humble and showed respect to everyone lucky enough to be in his life.”
Ford was chosen as the team’s MVP in his first season with Boston. He retired after the 1981–82 season and worked as an assistant coach for the Celtics for seven years, from 1983 to 1990. He helped Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish win two championships with the team in 1984 and 1986, when he worked with coach K.C. Jones.
— Frank Carpano (@NBC10_FrankCarp) January 18, 2023
He is one of four former Celtics, along with Bill Russell, Tom Heinsohn and Sam Jones, who have won championships as both players and coaches.
The Celtics said in a statement, “Chris Ford’s career as a player and coach spanned over a decade of Celtics basketball, and he left his mark every step of the way.” “Doc,” as his teammates liked to call him, was a fundamentally versatile all-around guard. The Boston Celtics send their deepest condolences to the Ford family and their friends.
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Who Was Coach Chris Ford?
Ford was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey and was a star player at Villanova. He helped the team get to the NCAA Elite Eight in 1970 and the Final Four in 1971. He scored 1,433 points for the Wildcats throughout three seasons and his 238 assists in 1970-71 are still the school record for a single season.
Jay Wright, who used to coach Villanova, put a picture of Ford in his Wildcats uniform on Twitter and said that Ford was his “boyhood idol.”
“A smart, talented and tough Villanova guard,” said the post. “He was more of a hero to me when I knew him as a great man, loyal friend, and passionate (Villanova) alumnus. Everyone at VU loves Chris. I’ll miss talking to you.”
In 1972, Ford was picked up by the Detroit Pistons. He played there for six years before being sent to the Celtics in a trade. In his first year in Boston, 1978–79, he averaged a career-high 15.6 points and 4.7 assists per game. In the first quarter of Boston’s win over the Houston Rockets on October 12, 1979, the first game of the next season, he made the first 3-point shot in the history of the NBA.
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Jessa Martin is the author of Nogmagazine, A professional in writing by day, and novelist by night, she received her bachelor of arts in film from Howard University and her master of arts in media studies from the New School. A Brooklyn native, she is a lover of naps, cookie dough, and beaches, currently residing in the borough she loves, most likely multitasking.