His 1977 Portland Trail Blazers won the NBA Championship – the city’s only title
ESPN analyst and NBA Hall of Fame coach Dr. Jack Ramsay died on Monday. He was 89.
Ramsay died in his sleep in Naples, Fla. He was diagnosed with melanoma in 2004 and later battled growths and tumors that spread to his legs, lungs and brain. Eventually he would also fight prostate cancer, and most recently, a marrow syndrome.
Ramsay coached for 20 seasons in the National Basketball Association, making the playoffs 16 times. He won the NBA Championship in 1977 as coach of the Portland Trailblazers — the city’s only title. Ramsay, who also won a ring in 1967 as general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992.
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Born John T. Ramsay in 1925, the NBA legend earned his doctorate — and thus the moniker “Dr. Jack” — in education in 1949.
Ramsay began working as a television analyst on 76ers games after leaving the coaching ranks. Later, he worked on Heat television broadcasts for eight seasons before moving full-time to ESPN for radio and TV commentating before the 2000-01 season.
“It was our great pleasure to work with Dr. Jack and his energy and zest for life resonated in all that he did,” ESPN president John Skipper said in a statement. “He leaves an amazing legacy of helping fans understand and appreciate the game he loved.”
The former Navy man was known for his personal style and commitment to fitness: Ramsay competed in at least 20 triathalons over the course of his life, according to his most-recent employer.
Ramsay’s funeral is scheduled for Thursday.