Paul Silas, a 3-time NBA champion, a two-time NBA All-Star and head coach for several teams, has passed away, reports Yahoo Sports. He was 79.
His daughter Paula Silas-Guy confirmed that the cause of his passing was due to cardiac arrest.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver offered his condolences and honored Silas for his enormous impact on the game.
“We mourn the passing of former NBA All-Star and head coach Paul Silas,” 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.”
In a tweet, the Houston Rockets, who are coached by Silas' son Stephen, also offered their condolences to his family.
“The Fertitta Family and the Rockets organization are deeply saddened by the passing of Paul Silas, father of Rockets head coach Stephen Silas,” the tweet read. "Our heartfelt thoughts are with Stephen and his family during this difficult time.”
Born Paul Theron Silas on July 12, 1943, in Prescott, Ark., at age 8, he relocated to Oakland California with his family. In the Bay Area, his family shared a home with their cousins, three of whom would go on to form the legendary group The Pointer Sisters.
While attending McClymonds High School, where his hero Bill Russell played 10 years prior, Silas led the varsity team to a 68-0 record over three seasons and earned a scholarship to Creighton University. In 1964, he was selected by the St. Louis Hawks in the NBA draft.
During his career, Silas averaged 9.4 points and 9.9 rebounds a game, played in two All-Star games, was twice voted first-team All-Defense, and won three championships; two with the Boston Celtics and one with the Seattle SuperSonics.
After he retired, from 1980 to 1983, Silas was the coach of the San Diego Clippers. From 1988 to 1989, following a hiatus away from the league, he worked as an assistant coach for the New Jersey Nets. In 1989, he then went on to become an assistant coach with the New York Knicks until 1992. From there, he went back to work for the Nets as an assistant coach from 1992 to 1995, before working with the Suns from 1995 to 1997.
In 1997, Silas became head coach of the Hornets. From 1999 to 2003, Silas compiled a 208-155 record, taking the team into the playoffs each season, including two Eastern Conference Semifinals appearances.
Silas also holds the distinction of being LeBron James first head coach in the NBA, when he coached the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2003-2005. James spoke about the character of his former coach following the Los Angeles Lakers' victory over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday night.
“Probably one of the greatest human beings I’ve ever been around,” James said. “The start of my journey in this league started with him. His command, his principles, his attention to detail, his love for family … to hear that news was very sad.”
In addition to Stephen and Paula, Silas is survived by his wife, Carolyn (Kemp) Silas; a stepdaughter, Donna Turner, from Ms. Silas’s first marriage; three grandchildren; and two step-grandchildren.
“He combined the knowledge developed over nearly 40 years as an NBA player and coach with an innate understanding of how to mix discipline with his never-ending positivity,” said Charlotte Hornets chairman Michael Jordan. “On or off the court, Paul’s enthusiastic and engaging personality was accompanied by an anecdote for every occasion. He was one of the all-time great people in our game, and he will be missed.”
We at EBONY extend our prayers and deepest condolences to the family and friends of Paul Silas.