Paul Silas, who won three NBA championships and was a College Basketball Hall of Famer, died Sunday at age 79, his family confirmed. No cause of death was revealed.
“We mourn the passing of former NBA All-Star and head coach Paul Silas,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said. “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.”
Silas coached the San Diego Clippers for three years, then spent a decade as an assistant coach. He returned to the top seat later with the Charlotte Hornets, the New Orleans Hornets, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Charlotte Bobcats.
He took four of those teams to the playoffs, winning exactly 400 games — 387 in the regular season, 13 more in the postseason.
Hornets owner Michael Jordan remembered Silas as an “incredible leader.”
“Our Hornets family mourns the passing of Paul Silas. Paul was an incredible leader and motivator who served as our head coach on two occasions,” Jordan said in a statement. “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. 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. My thoughts, and the thoughts of our entire organization, are with his wife, Carolyn; his children, Paula and Stephen; and the entire Silas family.”
Hall of Fame guard and Los Angeles Lakers great Magic Johnson wrote on Twitter, “Paul made a huge contribution to the game of basketball and will be sorely missed!”
Silas was a two-time NBA All-Star and five-time All-Defensive team selection in 16 NBA seasons with the Hawks, Celtics, Supersonics, Suns, and Nuggets. A three-time All-American at Creighton, Silas was elected to the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017.
Silas is survived by his wife, Carolyn, a son, Stephen, daughter Paula, a stepdaughter, Donna Turner, three grandchildren; and two stepgrandchildren.