Chris Ford, a member of the Detroit Pistons’ top 50 players of all-time who later made the first 3-pointer in NBA history, has died. Ford, who reportedly recently suffered a heart attack, died Tuesday. He was 74.
Ford was the 17th overall pick by the Pistons in the 1972 NBA Draft out of Villanova, and played seven of his 11 seasons with Detroit. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard averaged double-digits in scoring in seasons for the Pistons, including 12.3 points in the 1976-77 season.
In 1978-79, he was averaging 11 points when Detroit traded him to Boston for Earl Tatum.
“The Detroit Pistons are saddened by the passing of Chris Ford, a member of the franchise’s Top 50 celebrated during the team’s 50th anniversary,” the Pistons said in a statement Wednesday night.
“Our thoughts are with Ford’s family, teammates and friends.”
After being dealt to the Celtics, he averaged 15.6 points the rest of the season. On Oct. 12, 1979, he made the first 3-pointer in NBA history. He won an NBA championship with the Celtics in 1981, retiring after the next season. He finished his career with 7,314 points, 2,719 assists and 1,152 steals.
He joined the Celtics coaching staff as an assistant after retiring, helping Boston to two more championships, joining such legends as Bill Russell in winning titles with the Celtics as both a player and coach. And in 1990 he was promoted to head coach, overseeing the final days of legendary players Larry Bird and Kevin McHale.
Ford was the head coach of the Celtics until 1995, making the playoffs four times in five years before he was fired and replaced by former Pistons teammate ML Carr. He was head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks (1996-98) and Los Angeles Clippers (1999-2000), and Brandeis University (2001-03). He returned to the NBA in 2003 as an assistant coach for the Philadelphia 76ers, and was briefly interim head coach in 2004.
After his coaching career, he scouted for the 76ers and was a consultant for the New York Knicks.
“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,” Ford’s family said in a statement.
“He always showed humility and respect for all those that were fortunate enough to be a part of his life.”
Ford grew up in New Jersey before playing at Villanova, which he led to an NCAA Tournament championship game, regional final and regional semifinal in his three seasons as a starter.