Chris Ford, a member of the Boston Celtics’ 1981 championship team, a longtime NBA coach, and the player credited with scoring the league’s first 3-point basket, has died, according to his family. He was 74.
His death was announced by the family via the Celtics on Wednesday. Although no official cause was given, the statement stated that Ford died on Tuesday. He died in Philadelphia, according to the Press of Atlantic City, after suffering a heart attack earlier in the month.
“Chris was beloved by his family, friends, and teammates. He had a great love for his family, the city of Boston, the fans, and the entire Celtics family,” the family statement said. “He always showed humility and respect for all those that were fortunate enough to be a part of his life.”
In his first season with the Red Sox, Ford was named the team’s MVP. He retired after the 1981-82 season and worked as an assistant coach for the Celtics from 1983 to 1990, assisting former teammates Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish to two titles in 1984 and 1986 under coach K.C. Jones.
He joins Bill Russell, Tom Heinsohn, and Jones as one of four former Celtics to have won championships as both a player and a coach.
Ford was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and was drafted by the Detroit Pistons out of Villanova in 1972. He played there for six seasons before being dealt to the Celtics. In his first season in Boston, he averaged a career-high 15.6 points and 4.7 assists per game. On Oct. 12, 1979, he made the first 3-point shot in NBA history in Boston’s win over the Houston Rockets.
Ford took over as Celtics coach after Jimmy Rodgers, and he led the team for five seasons, from 1990-91 to 1994-95.
As the head coach of the Boston Bruins, he compiled a 222-188 record with four playoff appearances, but his teams never advanced past the conference finals.