From time to time we like to remind that for the most part, we only see athletes when they are competing and that’s for a couple of hours at a time. We get hints of personality but you see them when they’re working. It’s part of who they are, not all of them. That’s true for anyone of course, but we see athletes in peculiar ways - part icons, part performers. It’s hard to see them as full people because their job is to entertain and distract.
They’re just as human as the rest of us, just gifted in ways that many admire and envy.
Paul Silas was a wonderful player. A native of Denver, North Carolina, he grew up in Oakland, graduating from the same high school as Bill Russell, and later followed him to the Boston Celtics.
Silas passed away on Monday at the age of 79. His son Stephen, who coaches the Houston Rockets, understandably took some time away to grieve but was at work Tuesday, coaching his team to a victory over the Phoenix Suns.
You may remember him from a few years ago when his wife, Ingrid, died after a woman crossed the lane and struck her head on (the other woman died as well).
He’s had some very tough times in his life but his faith has sustained him. His comments at his wife’s funeral were incredible: at a moment when bitterness or rage would be totally understandable, he immediately forgave the woman who killed his wife and gave comfort to her family as much as his own. One player said it gave him chills to listen. It’s an astonishing speech.
When he talked to Silas after the game Tuesday- you don’t have to turn the sound up to understand this and in fact this video may work better without it - first he comforted him the way anyone would.
Then he did more. You can’t know for certain, but our guess is that if anyone offered you that much compassion after such a painful loss, it would be hard not to be deeply moved.
He’s certainly not perfect; who is? Still, it’s hard to think of anyone who could have been more perfect in this moment. What a decent, good man he is.