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.
Prayers go out to Dr. Jack Ramsay’s family. He will be missed for he is the true meaning of a Trailblazer!
— Lamarcus Aldridge (@aldridge_12) April 28, 2014
Saddened by the passing of Jack Ramsay. A great man, so good to me and all he encountered. http://t.co/Zklz6QF70j
— J.A. Adande (@jadande) April 28, 2014
— Paul Allen (@PaulGAllen) April 28, 2014
Thoughts and Prayers to the Family, Friends, and Fans of Coaching Legend Dr, Jack Ramsay. All Class! Will be missed.
— Mark Jackson (@MarkJackson13) April 28, 2014
My thoughts and prayers go out to the Ramsay family… Thank you for believing in a skinny kid from Riverside CA in ’87.. Great friend
— Reggie Miller (@ReggieMillerTNT) April 28, 2014
Absolutely loved talking hoops and life with Dr. Jack. Great man. He will be missed
— Dirk Nowitzki (@swish41) April 28, 2014
R.I.P Jack Ramsay.. Great man. The Greatest Hawk ever. He will be missed but never Forgotten.
— Jameer Nelson (@jameernelson) April 28, 2014
RIP to the late great Dr. Jack Ramsay. Legendary, respected, inspiring. You will be missed. #DrJack
— THREE (@DwyaneWade) April 28, 2014
Wanna say RIP tithe Great late Dr Jack Ramsay our Nba family will miss u
— Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) April 28, 2014
The basketball & Blazers family lost a great person.Rip Dr Jack Ramsay, you’ll be missed. I had the honor to meet & talk to him #RipCity#77
— Nicolas Batum (@nicolas88batum) April 28, 2014
I know we are all discussing this Sterling situation. Please take some time to remember the great Dr. Jack Ramsay.
— Baron Davis (@Baron_Davis) April 28, 2014
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.