Longtime NBA player, coach Paul Silas dies at 79

Longtime NBA stalwart Paul Silas, who won three championships as a player, and went on to serve as a head coach for 12 seasons, has died at the age of 79.

Silas’ death was first reported by Boston Globe columnist emeritus Bob Ryan and confirmed by the Houston Rockets, who are coached by Silas’ son Stephen.

Silas played 16 years in the NBA with the St. Louis/Atlanta Hawks, Phoenix Suns, Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets and Seattle SuperSonics. But he’s perhaps best remembered for his four years and two titles with the Celtics from 1972-76.

“We mourn the passing of former NBA All-Star and head coach Paul Silas,’ NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. ‘Paul’s lasting contributions to the game are seen through the many players and coaches he inspired, including his son, Rockets head coach Stephen Silas. We send our deepest condolences to Paul’s family.”

An exceptionally durable player and fierce rebounder, especially on the offensive end, the 6-7 Silas was a two-time All-Star and was named to the NBA’s all-defensive team five times. He also won a title with the Sonics.

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After retiring as a player following the 1979-80 season, Silas jumped immediately into coaching by taking over the San Diego Clippers for the next three seasons.

He served as an assistant for 11 years before taking over for former Celtics teammate Dave Cowens as Charlotte Hornets head coach 15 games into the 1988-89 season. 

He also coached in New Orleans, Cleveland (where he was LeBron James’ first NBA coach) and again in Charlotte before ending his coaching career in 2012. 

This post appeared first on USA TODAY