Former NBA player and coach Chris Ford has passed away at the age of 74


Chris Ford, a member of the 1981 Boston Celtics championship team, longtime NBA coach and player credited with scoring the league’s first 3-point basket, has died, his family announced Wednesday in a statement. He was 74 years old.


The family revealed the death through the Celtics. No official reason was given, but the statement said Ford died Tuesday. The Press of Atlantic City reported that he died in Philadelphia after suffering a heart attack earlier this month.

“Chris was loved by his family, friends and teammates. He loved his family, the city of Boston, the fans and the entire Celtics family,” the family statement said. “He always showed humility and respect to all those who were lucky enough to be a part of his life.”

Ford was voted the team’s Most Valuable Player in his first season with Boston. He retired after the 1981-82 season and was an assistant coach for the Celtics for seven seasons from 1983 to 1990, helping former teammates Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish to two titles in 1984 and 1986 while serving under head coach KC Jones.

He is one of four former Celtics players to win championships as a player and coach, joining Bill Russell, Tom Henson and Jones.

“As a player and coach, Chris Ford’s basketball career spanned more than ten years for the Celtics, and he made his mark every step of the way,” the Celtics said in a statement. “‘Doc’, as he was affectionately known by his teammates, was an essentially versatile all-around guard. … The Boston Celtics send their deepest sympathies to the Ford family and their many friends.”

Born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Ford starred at Villanova, advancing to the 1970 NCAA Elite Eight and 1971 Final Four. He scored 1,433 points over three seasons for the Wildcats, with his 238 assists in 1970-71 still the school’s single-season record.

Former Villanova coach Jay Wright Post a photo Ford in his wildcat uniform took to Twitter, calling him a “boyhood idol.”

“The (Villanova) goalkeeper is creative and talented,” the post said. “He was more of an idol when I knew him as a great guy, a loyal friend and a passionate (Villanova) alumnus. Kris is loved by the VU community. I will miss our conversations.”

Ford was drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 1972. He spent six seasons there before being traded to the Celtics. He averaged a career high of 15.6 points and 4.7 assists per game his first season in Boston in 1978-79. He opened the next season on October 12, 1979, dropping the first three points in NBA history in the first quarter of Boston’s victory over the Houston Rockets.

Ford succeeded Jimmy Rodgers as head coach of the Celtics and led the team for five seasons from 1990-1991 through 1994-1995.

He compiled a 222-188 record with four playoff appearances as Boston coach, but his teams never advanced past the Conference Finals.

Ford also had a couple of two-year head coaching stints with the Milwaukee Bucks (1996-1998) and Los Angeles Clippers (1998-2000). He began the 2003-04 season as an assistant for the Philadelphia 76ers and coached the last 30 games of that season after Randy Ayers was fired.

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