Many NBA fans will remember Paul Silas as a respected, yet largely mediocre head coach. Silas would go on to lead the then-San Diego Clippers, the Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the then-Charlotte Bobcats after his playing days. Yet before he was pacing the sideline, he was on the court gobbling up rebounds as a power forward.
Silas played 16 seasons in the NBA, twice making the NBA All-Star team and being named an All-Defense member five separate times. Making his debut in 1964, Silas played for the then-St. Louis Hawks during their final years in Missouri and their first in Atlanta. He was never much more than a rebounding role player while with the Hawks.
In 1969, things began to trend upwards for Silas. He was traded that spring to the Suns, an expansion franchise in its second season. Phoenix did not waste time ramping up, reaching 48 wins in their third season and 49 in their fourth behind Silas, Connie Hawkins and Dick Van Arsdale.
By that fourth season, Silas’ third with the team, he had cultivated an offensive game to go along with the defense and rebounding. He led the Suns in win shares and earned his first All-Star nod.
Silas made the All-Defensive Second Team in both 1971 and 1972, averaging 12.2 rebounds per game. Keep in mind that blocks were not yet recorded league-wide.
Yet Phoenix, in a period of change in 1972, moved him to the Boston Celtics for coveted rookie Charlie Scott. Silas would go on to win two rings with the Celtics in 1974 and 1976, the latter coming against the Suns in the NBA Finals.