Chris Ford and the origin of a fever | Sports

At present, a basketball game without triples is unimaginable. Whatever the scenario or context, the shot of three has become a basic factor in competing and, as such, it has been assumed as the backbone of the game. Beyond philias or phobias, looks towards the vanguard of some and fears of corrupting the product of others, there no longer seems to be a basketball without a triple.

In the NBA universe these days, each game sees an average of more than 24 triples scored, exceeding the 68 attempted. Supported by the suggestions of the analytics, which promotes greater productivity in the game, an increasing number of franchises are coming close to shooting almost half of their field goals from beyond the line of three. And the trend continues to rise. The triple, which would be born as a resource seen even with suspicion, is today all a fever.

But it was not always like this. His approval in the NBA, which dates back to 1979, would come at a minimum and on a trial basis for one season. With 22 franchises defining —through the Board of Governors— the approval or veto of the proposal, the voting would close with a record of 15 in favor and seven against, passing the necessary cut of at least two thirds of the total to establish the novelty. That decision would forever mark the fate of the League… and of the game itself. The first course would indeed be experimental, but after that there would be no going back.

The triple, which the extinct American Basketball League (ABL) would promote at the beginning of the sixties, would arouse notable interest during the growth of the iconic American Basketball Association (ABA), between the late sixties and mid-seventies. It would in fact be a legendary center, George Mikan, one of the main promoters of him during his period as commissioner of the ABA.

It would not be until the end of the eighties when the shot of three would reach the Olympic movement (it did so in 1988, in Seoul). Only four years before he landed in FIBA ​​basketball. By then, the NBA had already accepted it and, in a way, normalized. It would be on October 12, 1979 when Chris Ford, guard for the Celtics, would score the first triple in the history of the league, in a duel between Boston and Houston. In that same duel Rick Barry, of the Rockets, would get another.

Chris Ford (left) in 1981, while playing for the Boston Celtics.
Chris Ford (left) in 1981, while playing for the Boston Celtics.Joan Rathe (AP)

The death last Tuesday of Chris Ford, at the age of 74, allows us to travel back in time to offer perspective not only on the meaning of the triple in NBA basketball but also on his own career, often forgotten in the immensity of the NBA project. Celtics in which his legacy was recorded.

And it is that in reality even Ford’s milestone on that night in October 1979 would be, paradoxically, obscured by the great event that would take place simultaneously in that same rectangle: the premiere of Larry Bird. Bird’s first professional game actually took place during that duel against the Rockets. The blond Celtics forward had 14 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in his first game of a fascinating NBA career.

Ford didn’t know it then, but the adventures of that promising Bird, who ended his career as one of the best players of all time, were linked to his. The following season they both won their first championship (1981), the only one in the case of a Ford who was already living the twilight phase of his career (he retired just another year later). Also together, although in now different spaces, they won two more titles during the eighties (1984 and 1986). And it is that as soon as he finished his career, Ford became an assistant technician for the Celtics. From there, from the bench, he lived the rest of Bird’s career.

Highly appreciated in the locker room for his predisposition and supportive character, and for his enormous clairvoyance in reading the game, Doc (as he was called), enjoyed, from the shadows, the golden age of a team that by his memory is practically immortal. Ford later came to serve as the Celtics’ head coach for five seasons (between 1990 and 1995), no longer savoring the glory of the ring but completing a magic circle with the Massachusetts franchise.

Although the media foreground always seemed to avoid his figure, that triple against Houston, the first drop of water in an entire ocean, will always act as the visible part of the iceberg in the career of Chris Ford, one of the four men in all of history of the Celtics – along with Bill Russell, Tom Heinsohn and KC Jones – who had the honor of winning the ring both on the court and later in a role from the bench.

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