Hall of Fame coach Dr. Jack Ramsay died today at 89, ESPN reported.
Ramsay – whose title was well-earned with a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania – coached the Portland Trail Blazers to their 1977 NBA championship. He was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992.
In 21 seasons as an NBA head coach, Ramsay guided the the Philadelphia 76ers, Buffalo Braves, Trail Blazers and Indiana Pacers to a combined 864-763 record. In 1988, he retired with the second-most wins all-time (trailing only Red Auerbach) and now ranks 13th on that list. Prior to reaching the NBA, he coached St. Joseph’s to the 1965 Final Four.
Whether watched his coaching career unfold live or know it only through videos and photos, you’ve surely him on the sideline in his signature plaid jackets. Current Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts even wore a plaid jacket to honor Ramsay’s birthday earlier this year.
Younger generations better-know Ramsay for his work as an ESPN broadcaster, a job he held from 1996 all the way into last year’s playoffs before his health took a turn for the worse. Miami and Philadelphia fans might also remember his work as a color commentator on local telecasts before that.
His former ESPN co-worker, Mike Breen, once shared what made Ramsay so successful. Via Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated.
“He doesn’t think he knows everything — and he frankly does know everything,” said ESPN/ABC NBA play-by-play announcer Mike Breen. “He’s always asking questions and was always curious. He’d ask me what I thought of a certain team or player, and I was almost embarrassed to give him an answer. I should not be telling Dr. Jack Ramsay what I think, but he wants to know other people’s information because he still thinks he can learn from others. Even though he is from a different generation, his appreciation of today’s players is as strong as ever. Sometimes you’ll talk to a player or a coach who coached years ago and they’ll say that today’s players are not the same. Jack doesn’t think that way. He changed as the game changed. He grew with the game.”
Thoughts and prayers go out to Ramsay’s family, including his son Chris, an ESPN.com editor, and son-in-law, former Celtics, 76ers and Pacers coach Jim O’Brien.