The Associated Press (2007)

Dr. Jack Ramsay Dies at 89: A Look Back

 

The National Basketball Association and the world at large lost a great man today. ESPN has reported that Dr. Jack Ramsay died in his sleep late last night, after a long battle with marrow syndrome. Ramsay, 89, was placed in hospice care last Thursday in anticipation of the end. He lived a long and successful life, leaving his mark in more than just Portland.

Ramsay began his coaching career at Saint Joseph’s college on a one year contract. He led his alma mater to their first postseason in school history and was immediately offered an extension. He stayed there with the Hawks for 10 seasons, reaching the postseason each time, including seven Big 5 crowns, and a Final Four appearance.

He remained in his hometown of Philadelphia as the new General Manager of the 76ers, where he won his first professional championship. After trading Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain, Ramsay took over as the 76ers head coach before leaving to coach the Buffalo Braves (present day Clippers) in 1972. He helped the Braves to three playoff runs in four seasons, all of which ended in the second round.

Ramsay then came to Portland’s doorstep in 1976. The franchise was very young at the time, and had never made the playoffs in their six year history. Ramsay coached the Trail Blazers to their first and only NBA championship, making household names of Bill Walton and Maurice Lucas in the process. He coached in Portland for 10 seasons, making the playoffs all but one year despite crippling injuries to the aforementioned Walton.

In 1986, Ramsay became the head coach of the Indiana Pacers, where he coached them to their second winning season since the NBA/ABA merger in 1976. It was there that he coached another NBA great Reggie Miller, before resigning to take a job in broadcasting for the 76ers and, later, the Miami Heat when he relocated to Florida in his old age.

The outpouring of gratitude and emotion following Ramsay’s death has been tremendous. NBA players, analysts, fans, coaches, and owners have all taken time to appreciate the legacy of Dr. Jack. It is even reported that the Indiana Pacers will honor Ramsay with a moment of silence before tonight’s NBA Playoff game.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ramsay is survived by his son Christopher Ramsay and will always be remembered fondly for the time he spent here in Rip City and across the NBA. He improved the lives of so many and brought joy to so many more. The City of Portland alone owes much of its pride and unity to this no longer living legend. Thank you for everything, Dr. Jack.

 

 

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