Currently, a basketball game is unthinkable without triples. Whatever the scenario or context, the three shot has become a fundamental factor in competition and as such, has been considered the backbone of the game. Beyond philias or phobias, looks toward the vanguard of some and fear of contaminating the product of others, there doesn’t seem to be basketball without the triplet.
These days in the NBA universe, each game sees an average of more than 24 triple scores, which is more than 68 attempted. Backed by suggestions from analytics that foster greater productivity in the game, a growing number of franchises are inching closer to shooting nearly half their field goals from beyond the three-line. And the trend continues to rise. Triple, which will be born as a resource, which is also viewed with skepticism, is all the rage today.
But it was not always like this. Its acceptance into the NBA, which dates back to 1979, would come on a trial basis for a minimum and one season. With 22 franchises – through the board of governors – approving or vetoing the proposal, voting will close with a record of 15 in favor and seven against, the required cut of at least two-thirds of the total to establish the novelty. To clear . That decision would forever mark the fate of the league…and the sport. The first course will be really experimental, but there is no going back after that.
Triple-A, which the defunct American Basketball League (ABL) would promote in the early sixties, would generate notable interest during the growth of the prestigious American Basketball Association (ABA) in the late sixties and mid-seventies. It would actually be a well-known centerpiece by one of their main promoters, George Mikan, during his period as ABA commissioner.
It would not be until the late eighties that the three-shot would reach the Olympic movement (this happened in Seoul in 1988). It was only four years ago that he landed in FIBA basketball. By then, the NBA had already accepted it and become normal in a way. It would be on October 12, 1979 when Chris Ford, guard for the Celtics, would score the first triple in league history in a duel between Boston and Houston. Rick Barry of the Rockets would get the second in that same duel.
Chris Ford’s death last Tuesday at the age of 74 allows us to travel back in time, not only on the meaning of the triple in NBA basketball but also on his own career, which is often forgotten in the immensity of the NBA. Project Celtics in which his legacy was recorded.
And it is that exactly Ford’s milestone that night in October 1979 would also, paradoxically, be overshadowed by the great event that would happen simultaneously in the 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 flashy NBA career.
Former Celtics player and coach Chris Ford has passed away at the age of 74. He was champion in 1981 as a player and in 1984 and 1986 as an assistant.
and is famous for scoring the first triple in NBA history. pic.twitter.com/IfwgR7GWBi
— Alejandro Gaitán (@alejandroggo) January 18, 2023
Ford didn’t know it then, but connected to the exploits of that promising birdie, ending his career as one of the best players of all time. The following season both won their first championship (1981), the only one in the case of Ford who was already living in the twilight phase of his career (he retired after just one more year). Also together, although now at different venues, they won two more titles during the eighties (1984 and 1986). And it is that as soon as he finished his career, Ford became the assistant technician for the Celtics. From there, off the bench, he lived the rest of Byrd’s career.
Highly commended for his temperament and supportive character in the locker room, and for his immense foresight in reading the game, Doc (as he was called), from the shadows, enjoyed a golden age of a team that was his best. From memory is practically immortal. , Ford would later go on to serve as head coach of the Celtics for five seasons (between 1990 and 1995), no longer basking in in-ring glory but completing a spell with the Massachusetts franchise.
Although the media foreground always seemed to avoid his figure, the triple against Houston, the first drop of water across the ocean, will always serve as the visible part of the iceberg in the career of Chris Ford, one of four men Bill Russell, Celtics history—along with Tom Heinsohn and Casey Jones—who had the honor of winning a ring in a role both on the court and later off the bench.
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