Chris Ford NBA Champ, Coach Dead At 74

NBA champion and former coach Chris Ford -- credited with making the first three-point basket in league history -- has died, his family announced Wednesday. He was 74 years old.

"Chris was beloved by his family, friends, and teammates," his family said in a statement. "He had a great love for his family, the city of Boston, the fans, and the entire Celtics family. He always showed humility and respect for all those that were fortunate enough to be a part of his life."

The C's also addressed Ford's passing ... saying, "The Boston Celtics sends their deepest sympathies to the Ford family and their many friends."

The Pistons selected Chris in the second round of the 1972 NBA draft ... and he spent his first seven seasons with Detroit before joining the Celtics.

Chris played the final four years of his career with Boston ... and was a vital member of the 1981 team that won a championship over the Houston Rockets.

Ford won two more NBA titles with the Celtics in 1984 and 1986 as an assistant coach ... and became the eleventh head coach in franchise history in 1990.

As head coach, Ford led his former teammates Larry Bird, Robert Parrish and Kevin McHale to the playoffs several times.

Ford also coached Bird, Isiah Thomas, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing in the 1991 All-Star Game.


Nerlens Noel Settles Legal Battle W/ Rich Paul Agrees To Fork Over $200k

Nerlens Noel's legal battle with Rich Paul is over -- the two sides have settled their dispute ... with the former first-round draft pick agreeing to pay his former agent and Klutch Sports their cut of his $5 million contract with the New York Knicks.

In 2021, Nerlens -- who has earned around $45 million over the course of his career -- filed a lawsuit against Paul and Klutch Sports Group, claiming he lost $58 million in potential earnings when Paul represented him from 2017-2020.

Noel accused Paul -- whose client list includes several other high-profile NBA superstars, including LeBron James -- of advising him to reject a $70 million offer and take a one-year deal instead.

Noel's lawsuit came after Paul filed a grievance with the National Basketball Players Association ... claiming the former center owed him $200,000 in commission for the Knicks deal, per ESPN.

According to Shams Charania, Noel, Paul, and Klutch Sports Group "amicably settled their ongoing dispute" ... with the hooper agreeing to cough over the dough and withdraw all legal proceedings.

In September 2022, District Judge Jane J. Boyle, dismissed Noel's lawsuit ... recommending that the case be addressed within the NBPA's arbitration system.

Noel, drafted by the Pelicans in 2013 before being traded to the 76ers on draft night, has bounced around the league throughout his career ... spending time with the Thunder, Knicks, and Mavericks as well. He currently plays for the Pistons.

Gillie Da Kid Sinkin' 3-Pointers On the Pistons!!! Where's Cade Cunningham?

Gillie Da Kid is lights out shooting the rock ... as the Detroit Pistons learned at their own training facility, and ya better believe he didn't hold back when it came to gloating!!!

The "Million Dollaz Worth of Game" podcast cohost battled Pistons assistant coach Jerome Allen Tuesday in a 3-point competition, where Gillie was talking more smack than Gary Payton in his prime. He even called out his victory before taking his first shot.

Jerome only sunk 3 out of 10 shots, and Gillie was confident he'd top that in short order.

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The Philly rapper wasn't even dressed for hooping on the hardwood yet still hit several 3's in a pair of jeans and a Louis Vuitton belt that barely held them up. Jerome is also a former NBA player so the bragging rights are even sweeter.

Gillie's J was so butter, he also called out Pistons' star Cade Cunningham ... who was apparently watching the splashdown massacre from the sidelines but the former #1 draft pick didn't partake. Of course, he's injured with a sore shin, so he gets a pass on dodging the challenge.

Even at 37 years old, Gillie is one of the better rapping hoopers around, and few of his peers would disagree.

Just last year he dropped a cool 30 points in a Philly celebrity basketball game, and also got to show his stuff in Ice Cube's Big3 this past summer.

NBA GMs can start drawing up a 10-day contract!!!

Ben Wallace I'm Not Ready To Be An NBA Head Coach ... But Darvin Ham Is!!


Ben Wallace knows being an NBA coach isn't easy, but the former NBA star tells TMZ Sports that his ex-teammate Darvin Ham is the perfect man for the Lakers' job.

"I know he's a great locker room guy," Wallace said at LAX this week ... "I think the guys are going to rally around him. I think his message is going to be on point for that team."

"I think it's just a matter of him buying into the system and going out there playing basketball. You can look at the team and tell they're built to win."

Wallace, who played 16 seasons in the NBA, primarily with the Pistons (he also played for the Wizards, Bulls, Magic, and Cavs), says NBA coaches don't get enough credit for the work they put in.

FYI, Wallace and Ham played together from 2003 to 2005 ... and won a championship together in 2004.

Ben -- a four-time All-Star and four-time Defensive Player of the Year -- visited his old pal at Lakers practice this week, where he was seen talking with Patrick Beverley, who was recently acquired by trade.

The Lakers had an extremely disappointing 2021-22 season, going 33-49, and missing the playoffs.

We also asked Ben if he had interest in becoming a head coach himself, and while Big Ben didn't rule out the possibility, he told us he's not looking to dedicate his entire life to the job ... 'cause he's enjoying life.

"That's a lot of work," Wallace said ... "It's a lot of work. I'm back around the team. Maybe I'll get that buzz once or twice, but for now, I'm enjoying what I'm doing."

Wallace also spoke about "Undrafted" -- the cannabis company he launched with RAIR Cannabis -- along with his own strain, "Undrafted," which he hopes to bring to L.A. (it's currently in Michigan).

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"Not trying to replace anything," the NBA champ said about marijuana, adding, "It worked for me. I just encourage people, if you're doing something and it works for you, you should stick with it."

"I'll never tell you to change something that's already worked."

Bob Lanier NBA Hall of Famer ... Dead At 73

Sad news in the NBA world ... Hall of Famer Bob Lanier passed away on Tuesday at 73 years old.

The Detroit Pistons legend -- who made eight All-Star teams in 14 seasons -- died following a short illness, the NBA announced. He was surrounded by his family when he passed, the league added.

"I learned so much from Bob by simply watching how he connected with people," NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, said in a statement mourning Lanier's death on Tuesday night. "He was a close friend who I will miss dearly, as will so many of his colleagues across the NBA who were inspired by his generosity."

"We send our deepest condolences to Bob's family and friends."

Lanier -- who gained notoriety for his size 22 shoes -- was taken by the Detroit Pistons with the #1 overall pick in the 1970 NBA Draft ... and he went on to star for the Motor City for the next decade, averaging 22.7 points per game and 11.8 rebounds per game.

The 6-foot-11, 250-pound big man later went on to star for the Bucks -- playing four seasons in Milwaukee before retiring following the 1983-84 season.

Silver called Lanier one of "the most talented centers in the history of the NBA."

Following his career on the court, Lanier briefly coached the Golden State Warriors. He later became a global ambassador for the NBA and a special assistant to commissioner David Stern and then Silver.

"His impact on the league went far beyond what he accomplished on the court," Silver said.
"For more than 30 years, Bob served as our global ambassador and as a special assistant to David Stern and then me, traveling the world to teach the game's values and make a positive impact on young people everywhere."

Silver continued, "It was a labor of love for Bob, who was one of the kindest and most genuine people I have ever been around. His enormous influence on the NBA was also seen during his time as President of the National Basketball Players Association, where he played a key role in the negotiation of a game-changing collective bargaining agreement."


LeBron James, Isaiah Stewart Ejected from Game after Brutal Foul

LeBron James elbowed a guy in the face during his game in Detroit -- and while the receiving player bled out of his face ... he started to come after the King in a fury. The fight led to both players being ejected.

Pistons' big man Isaiah Stewart got tangled up with LBJ Sunday during the Lakers game there in town, and while LeBron was trying to box out IS -- he turned around and nicked him in the eye ... in what many took as a cheap shot.

The elbow to the dome sent Stewart tumbling, but he was back up to his feet in a hurry ... and came face-to-face with LeBron, and started to tussle with him right there on the court.

Teammates scrambled in to separate the two -- this as Stewart's face started to gush blood -- but it became clear very quickly that he wasn't over the ordeal, and was ready to get into a full-blown melee. Watch how much it took to restrain him ... a couple different times.

By the end, Stewart was being dragged into the locker room tunnel by his teammates and coaching staff -- but even then, he broke away from them and started bolting it ... presumably looking to come around the other side to get his hands on LeBron.

Luckily, nothing crazy ended up happening beyond this -- but for a moment there, it made for a scary scene ... and had strong Malice at the Palace vibes, something no one wants to recreate.

The view from the crowd was just as insane ... as you could see Stewart tearing past people on the court in an effort to get to LBJ. There were even announcers in the building instructing people to stay in their seat -- which tells you how serious it was getting.

In the end, Stewart got tossed ... as did LeBron, who got rung up for a flagrant 2 foul. As of this writing, the Lakers are on the Pistons' tails, with just a few minutes to go.

Jermaine O'Neal, Pacers We Were Called 'Thugs' After 'Malice At The Palace' ... 'Character In Question'

Ex-NBA star Jermaine O'Neal says the backlash following the infamous 'Malice At The Palace' was brutal and wrong ... claiming he and his teammates were labeled "thugs" after the brawl.

The 2004 incident between the Pacers, Pistons and fans in attendance is one of the most memorable moments in NBA history -- Metta Sandiford-Artest (Ron Artest at the time) rushed into the stands and fought a spectator after a drink was thrown at him ... and absolute chaos ensued.

Metta was suspended the rest of the season, Stephen Jackson was hit with a 30-game ban and O'Neal received a 15-game punishment for their involvement in the fight ... the biggest suspensions in NBA history.

Now, Stak and JO are reflecting on the brawl for the new Netflix series 'Untold' (which debuts Tuesday) ... saying the criticism they received after the event was unfair.

"Ron, Steve, JO, it's their fault," Jackson said. "They were being thugs! They were acting out of line!"

O'Neal added ... "Like all of a sudden, my character is in question."

"These are thugs and everybody else signing off, 'yeah, rap music' and this -- well they're not saying that when hockey is beating the hell out of each for decades."

O'Neal is seemingly highlighting the double standard that exists between the reaction to black basketball players getting in a fight and the same thing happening in a predominantly white sport.

Even though the incident happened nearly 20 years ago, the points O'Neal raises remain significant.

Blake Griffin Becomes Free Agent After Buyout ... Lakers Next?!

Blake Griffin is officially a free agent -- the 6-time All-Star has agreed to a contract buyout with the Detroit Pistons ... and now the big question is: where's he gonna go next?!

31-year-old Griffin -- the #1 overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft -- can now join any team he wishes ... and there are some serious contenders reportedly interested in adding Griffin for a playoff run.

One of those teams?? The Los Angeles Lakers, a squad that's already stacked ... but could really use the depth in the hunt to repeat as NBA champions in 2021.

There are 3 other teams that have expressed interest in Griffin -- the Miami Heat, Golden State Warriors and Brooklyn Nets, according to reporter Marc Stein.

Of course, Griffin hasn't played for the Pistons since Feb. 12 ... when Detroit announced he would remain inactive while they explored trades and the possibility of buying out his contract.

Considering Blake has a player option worth nearly $39 million for next season, it's no surprise Motor City couldn't find a suitable offer.

Griffin played in L.A. for 9 years with the Clippers ... but there's a real possibility he could return to his old home as a Laker this time around.

Story developing ...

LiAngelo Ball Waived by Detroit Pistons ... After 2nd Preseason Game

LiAngelo Ball has been waived by the Detroit Pistons ... reducing the amount of Ball bros in the NBA from 3 to 2.

The move came Sunday, according to The Athletic's James Edwards III, following the Pistons' 2nd preseason game -- though Gelo didn't play in that match up.

In fact, 22-year-old Gelo didn't play in either of the Pistons' 2 preseason games this year.

The 6'5", 230-pounder signed a non-guaranteed earlier this month -- and his father, LaVar Ball, was so pumped to have his 3 sons on NBA rosters, he tweeted about it.

"Proud!! We're just getting started," LaVar wrote at the time.

Of course, LaVar's oldest son, Lonzo Ball, was the 2nd overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. He now plays for the New Orleans Pelicans.

His youngest son, LaMelo Ball, was just taken with the 3rd overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets.

Gelo famously enrolled at UCLA back in 2017 -- but left the University after shoplifting sunglasses during an international trip to China.

He later took his talents to the Lithuanian Basketball League in 2018 before returning to the states to play his father's Junior Basketball Association.

Gelo signed a G League contract with the Oklahoma City Blues in 2019 -- but the season was canceled due to COVID-19.

So, where does this leave Gelo now? It's a good question ... but we're guessing he's not giving up his NBA dreams just yet.

J. Cole Tryout Offer From Detroit Pistons ... 'Hit Us Up!!!'

Is this really happening?!?

J. Cole is getting his first shot at making his NBA dream come true ... with the Detroit Pistons offering the rapper a tryout!!!

As we previously reported, rap legend Master P says the 35-year-old North Carolina native is training like crazy to get a shot at the league ... and even asked P for advice on how to turn from MC to baller while working on a Puma commercial together.


Considering P landed 2 NBA contracts in the '90s with the Raptors and Hornets, it wouldn't be the first time a rapper has hit the hardwood as a pro ... and Cole is known for being a legit threat with his game.

The Pistons got wind of our interview with P ... and used their official Twitter account to let Jermaine know they'd love to be the team to give him a legit shot at making it to the NBA -- and even used his own lyrics in the offer.

"We see you out here. You said they only got 12 slots on the Pistons," the team said, referencing his song, "FRIENDS."

"Hit us up for that tryout. This is for all the dreamers."

Look ... this could very well all be for publicity. But, then again, stranger things have happened.

After all, the Pistons went 20-46 last season ... so they can use all the help they can get.

You know what to do now, J. -- pick up the phone!!!

Isiah Thomas Still Bitter Over '92 Dream Team Snub ... Blames '91 Bulls Diss

Isiah Thomas admits he's still "personally hurt" he was not asked to be a part of that legendary '92 Dream Team -- and it's obvious he thinks it's all because he didn't shake Michael Jordan's hand.

Remember, Thomas and his Pistons teammates infamously walked off the court after getting their asses kicked by the '91 Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conf. Finals without shaking hands.

Thomas, now 58, was not only villainized in the media for being a bad sport -- but Michael Jordan took the snub personally. They still don't get along.

The incident was featured in Sunday's new episode of "The Last Dance" ... and Monday morning, Thomas had more to add when he joined ESPN's "Get Up."

"Why I'm personally hurt is another reason why I'm here," Thomas said ... "Because being left off the Dream Team, that personally hurt me."

Thomas says he doesn't know why he was not selected -- but it's obvious he believes it's because he dissed Michael Jordan by not shaking his hand after that '91 series.

Thomas -- one of the best NBA players alive at the time -- says his resume should have made him a lock for the Dream Team, which is why he thinks the non-selection had nothing to do with his talent.

"If I'm not apart of the Dream Team because a lapse in emotion in terms of not shaking someone's hand ... if that's the reason why I didn't make the Dream Team, then I am more disappointed today than I was back then when I wasn't selected."

Thomas -- who had made the NBA All-Star team every year from '82 to '93 -- explained, "The only thing that's missing from my resume is not being on the Dream Team."

The man's got a point -- Thomas was one of the best players in the league at the time ... and had 2 NBA titles and was a 10-time All-Star at the time.

It's something Thomas has stressed for years ... he revealed in 2013 he felt disrespected by the Bulls, but would "absolutely" shake hands if he could do it all over again.

Ben Wallace Pistons Would Have Zero Rings W/ Melo ... Woulda Ruined Our Chemistry!!!

If Detroit drafted Carmelo Anthony in 2003, the Pistons would've won not 1, not 2, not 3 ... but ZERO rings!!! -- so says Ben Wallace, who truly believes drafting Melo would've hurt the team.

Remember, the hypothetical argument came up when Anthony and Dwyane Wade talked about their epic draft class on IG Live ... speculating what Melo's career would've been like if Motor City picked him instead of all-time bust Darko Milicic.

"I know I would have maybe 2 or 3 rings," Melo said.

Enter Big Ben ... who says it's actually a GOOD thing the Pistons messed up with the #2 overall pick ... because Melo would've thrown everyone off.

"If we would've drafted Carmelo, I honestly don't think we would have ever won a championship," Wallace said on the 120 Watts Podcast.

"Melo would have wanted to play right away. It would have had the potential to disrupt the team chemistry."

Of course, the Pistons went on to win a 'ship over Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in 2004 without Darko's help ... and Melo is still ringless.

Not everybody on that team feels the same way, though ... Chauncey Billups thinks the Pistons woulda won 3 titles if they drafted Melo.

Guess we'll never know.

Andre Drummond Rips Detroit Pistons After Trade ... There's No Loyalty!

Andre Drummond says he's learned a very important lesson about the NBA -- "there's no friends or loyalty."

The 6'11" All-Star -- who's been with the Detroit Pistons since he was drafted in 2012 --ripped the team moments ago after learning he was just traded to the woeful Cleveland Cavaliers, the 2nd worst team in the NBA.

"If there’s one thing I learned about the NBA, there’s no friends or loyalty," Drummond said.

"I’ve given my heart and soul to the Pistons, and to be have this happen with no heads up makes me realize even more that this is just a business!"

Drummond added, "I love you Detroit. You will always have a special place in my heart! But on to the next @cavs hope your ready! Let’s finish the year off the right way."

The 26-year-old center is a stud -- he's a 2-time All-Star who's currently leading the league in rebounds. In fact, he went off Wednesday night against the Suns scoring 31 points and 19 boards in that game.

He's led the league in rebounds 3 times during his career -- 2016, 2018 and 2019.

Joe Johnson Hey NBA, Call Me!!! ... My Body's At 100


Joe Johnson says he's been living in the gym and staying in shape in case an NBA team comes calling ... telling TMZ Sports he'll be ready to go if a squad needs him for the playoffs.

38-year-old Iso Joe made a hyped return to the Association in October when the Detroit Pistons scooped him up from the BIG3 ... but got cut a few days before the season.

Joe tells us there are no hard feelings with how it went down in Motor City, saying his body wasn't right at the time.

"I was banged up with a lot of injuries, didn't get a chance to really rest," Joe tells us. "So, it kinda hurt me. Which is why I got waived. But, I'm cool with it."

Now, Joe says his body is at "100" and his agent is keeping tabs on teams' interest as the season reaches that time of the year ... but makes it clear he's not gonna beg to get signed.

"I don't think I have to plug myself for that. I think my resume pretty much speaks for itself."

FYI -- Joe is a 7-time All-Star, former All-NBA third teamer and went on to be the BIG3 MVP last year.

"Like I said, if an opportunity comes about and it's worth it and a team is serious, of course I'll jump on that opportunity."

Advice to NBA teams ... HIT ISO JOE UP!!!!!!!

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