BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics, again looking within their fabled franchise, Tuesday named former player and assistant Chris Ford their head coach.
Ford, who has been with the Celtics since 1978, succeeds Jimmy Rodgers, who was fired last month following Boston's elimination from the playoffs after one round.
Last week Ford became the prime coaching candidate when Duke's Mike Krzyzewski withdrew his name from consideration.
'Chris Ford is truly a Celtic who has paid his dues as both a coach and a player in this league,' said Dave Gavitt, the team's director of basketball operations. 'I can't think of anyone who could handle this situation better than Chris.'
Ford, 41, the Celtics' 11th head coach, takes over a team in decline, with stars Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish nearing the end of their careers. Ford brushed aside a question over whether any player was 'untouchable.'
Other Celtic players to coach the team were Bill Russell, Tom Heinsohn, Tom Sanders, Dave Cowens and K.C. Jones.
Ford came to the Celtics as a player during a similar drought in 1978, and saw the team regain its prominence under Bill Fitch and Jones.
'I came here, not during good times, but we made them good times,' Ford said. 'It took hard work and determination to put us on top. It'll take fire, passion and emotion to put us back on top.'
'There'll be some rough times and there'll be some good times. With the draft coming up, we'll be discussing personnel changes and whether there will have to be personnel changes. One way or the other, the job will get done.'
Red Auerbach, the team president, said Ford was always the 'prime candidate' to succeed Rodgers, and that the team only talked to Krzyzewski, but never offered him the job.
'The only other one we ever pursued at all was Mike Krzyzewski, to find out his interest,' he said. 'But as I and Dave Gavitt have said, the prime candidate all along was Chris Ford.'
Auerbach said he hoped Ford's scrappiness as a player would carry over to his coaching.
'I feel he's a big motivator,' Auerbach said. 'He won't sit back on the bench. He should give the guys a shot in the arm as far as aggressiveness.'
Ford said he wants to improve the transition defense, reduce turnovers and cut the opponent's easy baskets.
'It's no secret we have to add some quickness and speed to our team,' he said. 'At almost every position, we have to be able to play transition defense.'
Ford met for several hours Monday with Gavitt, and has taken part in all meetings regarding the June 27 draft. He said he was not bothered by reports that Krzyzewski was management's first choice.
'I always had the utmost confidence that what Dave was saying to me was true: that nothing had been offered to Mike,' he said.
Ford, who played at Villanova, was drafted by Detroit in 1973 and played for the Pistons for six seasons before being traded to Boston. On Oct. 12, 1979, he scored the first 3-point field goal in the NBA and was one of the league's best long-range shooters. He became an assistant coach with the Celtics in 1983 under Jones.