The sports world mourns the passing of South Jersey icon Chris Ford

by Marc Narducci | Jan 25, 2023
The sports world mourns the passing of South Jersey icon Chris Ford
The sports world lost a great person when South Jersey icon Chris Ford passed away last week at the age of 74. Ford, born in Atlantic City, was a graduate of Holy Spirit, who then starred at Villanova. He enjoyed a long career as an NBA player assistant coach and head coach.

Following his time at Holy Spirit, Ford went to Villanova where the highlight of his career was his junior season, 1970-71, when the Wildcats reached the NCAA championship game before losing to UCLA, 68-62.

The game before in a 92-89 double overtime win over Western Kentucky, Ford was among four Villanova players who played all 50 minutes. Ford had eight points and seven assists in the semifinal win.

As a senior in 1971-72, Ford would average 17.9 points for a Villanova team that lost to Penn in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.  

He was drafted in the second round by the Detroit Pistons in 1972 (17th overall selection).

Ford spent just over six seasons in Detroit and just under four seasons in Boston, where he gained his true fame.

Ford was the first NBA player to hit a three-point field goal in the 1979-80 season. He was a key contributor to Boston’s 1980-81 NBA championship team. During Boston’s 4-game-to-2 championship win over Houston, Ford averaged 10.5 points in 30.2 minutes.

Boston clinched the title with a 102-91 win at Houston in Game 6. In that game, Ford an outstanding complimentary performer for the Celtics, had 11 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals in 41 minutes.

In 794 regular season NBA games, he averaged 9.4 points and 3.4 assists. During 58 career playoff games, he averaged 7.5 points and 2.6 assists.

As for coaching, Ford served as an assistant with the Boston Celtics for seven seasons. In two of those seasons, in 1984 and 1986, Boston would win the NBA championship. He then was the Celtic's head coach for five seasons, accumulating a 222-188 record and earning four playoff berths. 

He then served two seasons as head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks and parts of two seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Ford finished his coaching career with the 76ers, first as an assistant coach and then as interim head coach for the final 30 games of the 2003-2004 seasons.

He had among the most successful NBA playing careers of anybody in South Jersey, playing in the league for 10 seasons. And of course, he enjoyed a long coaching stint as well. Yet for all he accomplished, Ford was always so humble, yet so accommodating.

Most of all, anybody who came in contact with Ford, got to see up close what a true gentleman he was.

He carried himself with so much class and will be greatly missed.

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Author: Marc Narducci


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