Jack Ramsay, a Hall of Fame basketball coach who led the
Ramsay coached in the NBA for parts of 21 seasons before embarking on a career as an NBA analyst for
His affinity for fitness never wavered, though. Ramsay, who competed in at least 20 triathlons during his life, worked out regularly into his 80s, even as he battled the various forms of cancer. He often spoke of his love of swimming in the Gulf of Mexico near his home in Florida or jogging in a pool or from wall to wall in his hotel room when on NBA assignments.
"He was that rarest of men with a unique style that was inspirational and motivational about basketball and life itself," said
Ramsay enjoyed enormous popularity within the league. To commemorate his 89th birthday this year, Portland coach
"Jack's life is a beacon which guides us all,"
John T. Ramsay was born Feb. 21, 1925, grew up in Philadelphia and enrolled at Saint Joseph's in 1942. His college career was interrupted by service in the Navy during World War II, but he returned to become captain of the basketball team at Saint Joseph's for his senior season. He graduated in 1949, then earned a doctorate in education from the
He started coaching his alma mater in 1955 and was wildly successful, going 234-72 and taking the Hawks to the
Ramsay left to become general manager of the
He was hired to coach in Portland in 1976. With a team featuring Walton and
"For me, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and one that I will cherish forever," Ramsay said in a 1997 interview.
Indeed, that was his lone NBA title as coach. Walton got hurt the next year, crippling Portland's chances of getting back to championship form during that era. Ramsay coached the Trail Blazers for nine more seasons without another trip to the finals. He spent the final three years of his NBA coaching career in Indiana, resigning from the
Ramsay, who had a record of 864-783 as coach, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992 and in 1996 was honored as one of the league's top 10 all-time coaches.
After leaving the Pacers, Ramsay began working as a television analyst on 76ers games. He worked on
Ramsay spent several years late in life caring for his wife, Jean, who was diagnosed in 2001 with