Chris Ford, who played guard for the Boston Celtics once they won the 1981 N.B.A. championship and later coached the team together with two others within the N.B.A., but who was perhaps best remembered for making the primary 3-point shot within the league’s history, died on Tuesday. He was 74.
Ford’s family announced his death through the Celtics but didn’t provide details. The Press of Atlantic City reported that he died in Philadelphia after having a heart attack this month.
The N.B.A. instituted the 3-pointer in its 1979-80 season, borrowing the concept from the previous American Basketball Association, which had merged with the N.B.A. in 1976. On Oct. 12, 1979, the opening night of the season, Ford was behind the arc when he caught a pass from guard Tiny Archibald and shot the basketball over the outstretched hand of the Houston Rockets’ Robert Reid with 3 minutes 48 seconds left in the primary quarter.
But Kevin Grevey of the Washington Bullets also hit a 3-point shot that night, in one other early-evening game, against the Philadelphia 76ers. After that game, a reporter told Grevey that he had “just set a record that may never be broken,” in line with an account by The Latest York Times in 2021.
Three nights after those season-openers, the N.B.A. issued a news release saying that Ford was, actually, the 3-point pioneer, for the reason that Celtics-Rockets game had began 35 minutes before the Bullets-Sixers matchup. Still, it was unclear at what exact time of the evening each 3-point basket was made.
The three-pointer went on to change into perhaps probably the most dominant offensive weapon utilized in the N.B.A.
Ford joined the Celtics early within the 1978-79 season in a trade with the Detroit Pistons. He played with Boston through the 1981-82 season. After serving as an assistant coach with the Celtics, he was the team’s head coach for five seasons within the Nineties. He later coached the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Clippers.
Christopher Joseph Ford was born on Jan. 11, 1949, in Atlantic City, N.J. He helped take Villanova to 3 N.C.A.A. tournament appearances, including a visit to the 1971 national championship game, where the Wildcats lost to U.C.L.A., coached by John Picket.
At 6 feet 5 inches, Ford was tall for a guard of his era. He averaged 15.8 points a game during his collegiate profession and was chosen by the Detroit Pistons within the second round of the 1972 N.B.A. draft.
In his first season with the Celtics, Ford averaged what became a career-high 15.6 points a game and was voted the team’s most useful player. He averaged 9.2 points a game with 3.4 assists for his N.B.A. profession. He was an assistant coach for the Celtics for seven seasons under their former guard K.C. Jones, after which succeeded Jimmy Rodgers because the team’s head coach. Ford held the post from the 1990-91 season to 1994-95 season. He compiled a 222-188 record with 4 playoff appearances.
He was the top coach of the Milwaukee Bucks from 1996 to 1998, and of the Los Angeles Clippers from 1998 to 2000. He began the 2003-4 season as an assistant coach for the 76ers and coached the ultimate 30 games of that season after Coach Randy Ayers had been fired.
In response to The Boston Globe, Ford is survived by his wife, Kathy; their children, Chris Jr., Katie, Anthony and Michael; and 7 grandchildren.
Kevin Grevey said he didn’t revisit the chance that it was he, not Ford, who had made the N.B.A.’s first 3-pointer until greater than a decade after those games, when he bumped into the reporter who had told him in October 1979 that he had made history.
Grevey said he would look into the matter further, but as he told The Times in 2021, “I swear I don’t care.”
But 3-pointers were hardly the one weapon that Ford had.
In response to CBS Boston, Ford was reported to have dunked not less than once on the Hall of Famer Julius Erving, one of the famous dunkers in N.B.A. history, whose nickname was Dr. J. That inspired Ford’s teammates to offer Ford a nickname of his own: “Doc.”