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A Philadelphia 76ers blog, hosted by Christopher A. Vito

Monday, April 28, 2014

Sixers, NBA mourn loss of Dr. Jack Ramsay


Dr. Jack Ramsay, a Hall of Fame coach with ties to the 76ers and Saint Joseph’s University, and whose basketball beginnings took place in Delaware County, died Monday after a lengthy battle with cancer. Ramsay was 89.

Ramsay, a Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer who spent the bulk of his coaching career with NBA teams, first worked the sidelines as the coach of now-shuttered St. James High in Chester. The Delaware County Sports Hall of Famer, Ramsay graduated from Upper Darby High School and later graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Saint Joseph’s University and attained master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania.

He moved into the college coaching ranks in 1955, when he was hired by his alma mater, Saint Joseph’s. Ramsay coached the Hawks until 1966, guiding them to seven Big 5 championships and 10 postseason appearances – including the first of each in program history.

From there, Ramsay joined the 76ers’ front office. And after winning a championship with 1966-67 team, he moved to the sidelines. He coached the Sixers from 1968-72, then the Buffalo Braves from 1972-76, before moving on to the Portland Trail Blazers. Ramsay coached the Blazers through 1986, with the franchise’s only championship, in 1977, highlighting his nine-season tenure with the team. Ramsay finishing his NBA coaching career with the Indiana Pacers, from 1986-88.

Ramsay had an 864-783 record (.525 winning percentage) during a 21-year NBA coaching career, for which he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992.

Here are a few statements about Ramsay from around the NBA…

Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil: “Dr. Jack Ramsay was a legendary figure in Philadelphia and a man whose passion and contributions to this city and the game of basketball will long be remembered. He left an indelible mark on the basketball community – from the Big 5 to our organization and throughout his storied career within the NBA – and was a friend and mentor to those who knew him, both on- and off-the-court. On behalf of the Sixers organization, we truly mourn the loss and send our deepest condolences to the entire Ramsay family.” 

Indiana Pacers owner Herb Simon: “When my brother, Melvin, and I bought the Pacers he was one of our first coaches and took us to our first NBA Playoff series. Jack was a good, humble man who gave us our first taste of success in the NBA. This is a loss for the sport of basketball, not just the Pacers. We send our condolences to his family, in particular his daughter, Sharon, who became part of our family when her husband, Jim, coached the Pacers.”

Indiana Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird: “Jack was a great man and I don’t use that term lightly. His contributions to the game, as a coach, advisor, broadcaster will endure forever. I remember talking to Jack, either in Florida, or when he came to our training camp when Jim O’Brien was the coach. I always learned something from him. This is a sad day for all of us in basketball and a sad day for anyone who knew Jack.”

Indiana Pacers basketball operations consultant Donnie Walsh:  “He was the first coach I hired with the Pacers. He was a wonderful choice, got us in the playoffs for the second time in our NBA history and got us our first NBA Playoff victory. During his time, we drafted Rik Smits and Reggie Miller and he was a tremendous teacher, a master, for young players like those two, helping them get off to a great start in their careers. I knew he was a great coach, but once I got to know him, he was a better man. I will miss him a lot, as will the rest of the NBA.”

UPDATED: 4/28, 2:10 p.m.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver: "Today, the NBA family mourns the loss of one of the true legends of our game, Dr. Jack Ramsay. From his coaching tenure to his broadcast work, Dr. Jack left an indelible mark on every facet of our game and on every person he came in contact with, including me. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and many friends.”

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