Ford Will Drive Celts

Ford Will Drive Celts

October 31, 1990

When Jimmy Rodgers was fired unexpectedly after the Celtics lost to the Knicks in the playoffs last May, Celtics players, fans and Chris Ford waited for the loyal assistant to be promoted. Ford had been a player and coach with the Celtics for 10 of the previous 11 years. It seemed his time had come.

For six weeks, however, Ford was left dangling. First, the Celtics made organizational changes: Dave Gavitt was brought in to run the basketball operation. And then Gavitt seemed to be more interested in hiring Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski than Ford. Finally, Krzyzewski announced he was staying at Duke, and Ford became the head coach. It is not a time he looks back upon fondly.

"It was total indecision," he said. "My contract had expired and I didn't know what my situation was going to be. It was a very trying time."

Ford, however, said he respects Gavitt because all along, Gavitt was honest with him. And now, along with Gavitt, Ford is seeking to return the Celtics to the NBA's highest level.

Ford has been a part of the Celtics' tradition. He played on the 1981 championship team and was a coach on the 1984 and 1986 champions. Only three others have played and coached on Celtics championship teams: Bill Russell, K.C. Jones and Tom Heinsohn.

He said the Chris Ford Celtics will emphasize defense more. And he said if the team can get easy transition baskets because of his quick backcourt threesome of Brian Shaw, Reggie Lewis and Dee Brown, it will make life easier for Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish.

"We have the guys that can run," Ford said. "Larry, Kevin and Robert will be doing all the things they have done for all these years. I think they will benefit from the running game because they won't be facing a double-team all night and won't be pounded on with that physical game in the low post."

Ford knows he ultimately will be judged by how seriously the Celtics compete for the title. Last year the Celtics won 52 games and Rodgers still was fired.

"I think with Dave at the top, stability is going to be there," Ford said. "I think we're on the right track now."

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