While many may not recognize Paul Silas’ greatness, he was known primarily for rebounding as he spent 16 seasons as a player. Many forget that he was LeBron Jame’s first pro coach once also.
Paul Silas, a three-time NBA champion as a player and a 12-season coach in the NBA, has died, his family announced Sunday.
He was 79.
— ESPN (@espn) December 11, 2022
In his time, Silas was a defensive prowess and a rebounding machine on three NBA championship teams. He later began coaching after his basketball career was completed. Sadly, Silas died at 79 in his home in Denver, North Carolina. According to New York Times, Silas died from cardiac arrest.
During his day, Silas was known for his unorthodox and tactical approach to rebounding. He stood at six foot seven inches being a physical presence in the paint. Naturally, he studied the arc and the spin of the basketball to help him time the rebounds better. Silas wasn’t physically gifted, so for his lack of vertical skills, he made up in basketball IQ.
“I used to say he had no hops, but he was an amazing rebounder,” Lenny Wilkens, Silas’ teammate with the St. Louis Hawks when he joined the NBA in 1964, mentioned in an interview for this obituary earlier this year. “You just couldn’t move him once he was in position.”
Paul Silas Stint in the NBA
Silas played for five NBA franchises; however, the last was the Seattle Supersonics. He rejoined Wilkens, who coached the team and played an important role in the Supersonics’ championship season of 1978-79.
He primarily spent his time with the Boston Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks. Silas also spent some time in Phoenix before being traded to Boston. He was a force to be reckoned with on the court. In fact, in his best season, he averaged 17.5 points and 11.9 rebounds, which led to the Celtics wanting to acquire him.
“The primary reason Red wanted Silas was to handle Dave DeBusschere, who had been giving them a hard time,” stated Bob Ryan, a Celtics reporter for The Boston Globe, in reference to the star forward of rival team Knicks.