Basketball taught Paul Silas to be patient.
He waited 10 years to win his first title as a player. As a coach, he waited 15 years for a second chance to lead a team. As a father, he waited 20 years to see his son get a chance to lead a team.
“I’ve always tried to stay positive,” Silas said in 2013, “and I think it usually worked.”
Silas, who touched the game as player, coach, and president of the National Basketball Players Association, has died, his family announced on Sunday. Silas, whose son Stephen Silas is the head coach of the Houston Rockets, was 79 years old.
“He has combined the knowledge he has developed over nearly 40 years as an NBA player and coach with an innate understanding of how to combine discipline with his never-ending positivity,” said Charlotte Hornets president Michael Jordan. The intriguing personality was accompanied by an anecdote for each occasion. He was one of the greatest people of all time in our game and will be missed.”
Silas’ daughter, Paula Silas-Guy, told The New York Times that her father died Saturday night of cardiac arrest. The Boston Globe was the first to report Silas’ death.
“We mourn the passing of former NBA All-Star and head coach Paul Silas,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. Silas, our deepest condolences to Paul’s family.”
The tributes began to come quickly. New Orleans held a minute’s silence for Silas before their game against Phoenix on Sunday, and both Suns coach Monty Williams and Charlotte coach Steve Clifford spoke at length about Silas’ role in their careers.
“For my family, he is a god. He’s bigger than life,” said Clifford.
Silas began his career as head coach with a three-year stint leading the San Diego Clippers in 1980. After spending more than a decade as an assistant, he returned to being head coach and spent time with the Charlotte Hornets. New Orleans Hornets, Cleveland Cavaliers and Charlotte Bobcats.
He led four of those teams to the playoffs and won exactly 400 games – 387 in the regular season and 13 in the postseason.
The Rockets host Milwaukee on Sunday night. It was not immediately clear how long Stephen Silas would stay away from the team; The Rockets had planned for John Lucas to temporarily lead the team while the Silas family was grieving.
“His engaging presence and massive personality have inspired legions of NBA players and coaches,” the Cavaliers said in a statement for Paul Silas. “
Stephen Silas stepped into the NBA world while his father was coaching in Charlotte, starting out as a lead player and eventually joining the Hornets as an assistant on his father’s staff in 2000. It took twenty years for Stephen Silas to get a chance to become a president. Coach, this comes when Houston hires him in 2020.
“My dad, frankly, was my #1 mentor, someone I could trust, ask questions and ask questions about me,” Stephen Silas said in a 2021 Rockets documentary about his coaching journey. “He really valued my opinion, which was kind of weird for me, I was very young and didn’t have much experience.”
Stephen Silas persevered for a long time before he got his big chance. He saw that his father had also waited a long time for the job he wanted. Paul Silas was fired by the San Diego Clippers in 1983 and wouldn’t get a head coaching opportunity until 1999—that came when Paul Silas’ assistant Dave Cowens resigned at Charlotte after a 4-11 start. . 1998-99 season.
“I stayed positive. I had a positive attitude,” Paul Silas told the Rotary Club of Charlotte in 2013. “Even though I didn’t get the job, I was like, ‘No, I’m not going to be negative. ‘it will be positive.’”
Eventually, Silas would take over in Cleveland. He got there in 2003, the year the Cavaliers chose James.
“I coached LeBron for two years, it was his first two years, and LeBron was incredible,” said Paul Silas. “He knew Bill Russell when he was 18. I don’t even know. And he understood the game.”
In time, James would become a champion. It took Paul Silas several years to reach this level as a player.
Louis and the Atlanta Hawks were five-time All-Defensive picks, averaging 9.4 points and 9.9 rebounds in 16 seasons with Phoenix, Boston, Denver and Seattle. Silas has won two championships with the Celtics – the first coming in his 10th season as a player – and a third with the SuperSonics. At 36, he was the oldest player in the NBA when he retired. And as union president, Silas oversaw a period of growing cadres, rising salaries, and rising benefits.
“He is respected by everyone who has encountered him throughout the NBA, and we are grateful for his contribution to the game of a lifetime in basketball,” the Suns said Sunday. said.
Paul Silas played college basketball at Creighton and averaged 20.5 points and 21.6 rebounds over three seasons. He was elected to the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017.
Bluejays coach Greg McDermott said: “Few people will get to his glorious career as a player and coach.”
AP Sports Writer Brett Martel in New Orleans contributed.
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