NBA legend Paul Silas has passed away at the age of 79. The three-time championship winner’s death was first announced by Boston Globe reporter Bob Ryan Sunday (Dec. 11) afternoon.
“I am very sad to report that the great Paul Silas has died at age 79. To watch him play was a joy. To be his friend was an honor,” Ryan tweeted. Soon after, the Houston Rockets followed suit, writing on Twitter: “The Fertitta family and the Rockets organization are deeply saddened by the passing of Paul Silas, father of Rockets head coach Stephen Silas. Our heartfelt thoughts are with Stephen and his family during this difficult time.”
Paul enjoyed a stellar professional basketball career for 16 seasons, playing for the Boston Celtics, with whom he won two NBA Championships; the St. Louis Hawks (now Atlanta Hawks); the Phoenix Suns; the Denver Nuggets; and the Seattle SuperSonics, with whom he won one championship. However, his dominance on the court began years before he was drafted into the league in 1964. According to CBS Sports, he is one of five athletes “in NCAA history to average over 20 points and 20 rebounds during his college career.” Fellow NBA icons Bill Russell, Julius Erving, Kermit Washington, and Artis Gilmore also achieved the feat.
Paul’s playing days came to an end when he retired in 1980; however, he did not stray away from the game. Instead, he stepped into a leadership role by becoming head coach of the San Diego Clippers. He would go on to secure coaching positions with the New Jersey Nets, the New York Knicks, the Phoenix Suns, and the Charlotte Hornets before landing in Cleveland with the Cavaliers in 2003. That year, the team drafted an 18-year-old LeBron James, making Paul the NBA superstar’s first league coach. Paul coached his final NBA season in 2012.
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