Hall of Fame NBA coach and ESPN analyst Dr. Jack Ramsay died today in Naples, Fla., having battled cancer for more than 15 years. He was 89. Family members say he died peacefully in his sleep.
“The entire ESPN family is saddened by the loss of our beloved NBA analyst Dr. Jack Ramsay,” ESPN President John Skipper said in a statement. “It was our great pleasure to work with Dr. Jack and his energy and zest for life resonated in all that he did. He leaves an amazing legacy of helping fans understand and appreciate the game he loved. Our thoughts are with his loved ones, including his son Chris, a respected member of our ESPN family.”
Ramsay, affectionately known as “Dr. Jack,” coached 20 years in the NBA and led current ESPN analyst Bill Walton and the Portland Trail Blazers to the 1977 NBA title. He also won a title while serving as general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1966-67 season and helped build the Buffalo Braves – now the Los Angeles Clippers – into a contender before moving to Portland in the mid-1970s. Ramsay, who also coached the Indiana Pacers and collegiately at St. Joseph’s University in Philadlephia, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992.
Ramsay joined ESPN in 1991 as an NBA analyst on television and worked on ESPN Radio games for 18 years before retiring last season. For years, Ramsay teamed with play-by-play announcer Jim Durham for many NBA on ESPN Radio broadcasts. Durham passed away in 2013 at the age of 65.
Ramsay often worked with his son Chris Ramsay, ESPN.com’s senior director, editorial and special projects and onetime NBA senior deputy editor.
The ESPN family, NBA and sporting world at large reacted to the news of Dr. Jack’s passing. Here’s a sampling of that outpouring:
So sad to hear of Dr.Jack Ramsay passing. Class, grace, loyalty, brilliance and heart barely begin to describe him. Prayers to his family.
— MikeTirico (@miketirico) April 28, 2014
Dr. Jack Ramsay was inspirational to be around. His energy, passion and intelligence. A day to celebrate a life lived well. #RIP
— Mike Greenberg (@Espngreeny) April 28, 2014
Dr. Jack Ramsay was a great coach, a terrific broadcaster, and an even better person. Rest in peace friend. pic.twitter.com/arHPZlCsH9
— NBA on ESPN Radio (@NBAonESPNRadio) April 28, 2014
Can't stop the tears..some of my fav broadcasting memories..workin w Dr. Jack Ramsay..jus LISTENING 2him talk hoops. Love you Dr Jack. #RIP
— Stuart Scott (@StuartScott) April 28, 2014
— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) April 28, 2014
A Philly legend, who coached at St. Joe's.. won a NBA title and was a Hall of Famer.. Rest in Peace Dr. Jack..
— Kevin Negandhi (@KNegandhiESPN) April 28, 2014
So sad at the passing of Dr Jack Ramsay…my first job was in Miami and he was calling Heat games regularly at the time..all time class act
— Bob Wischusen (@espnbob) April 28, 2014
I wrote this about Dr. Jack Ramsay when he stepped away from broadcasting last May. Simply, he was the best: http://t.co/QuigZMQRqS
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) April 28, 2014
My thoughts and prayers to the family of Dr Jack Ramsay, especially our ESPN colleague,his son Chris.
— Andy Katz (@ESPNAndyKatz) April 28, 2014
RIP Dr. Jack Ramsay. Interviewed him a few times in Miami, couldn't have been nicer or more gracious with his time
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) April 28, 2014
Wanna say RIP tithe Great late Dr Jack Ramsay our Nba family will miss u
— Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) April 28, 2014
Going to miss friend Dr Jack Ramsay.Grew up watching him coach NBAs Buffalo Braves.Worked with him at @ESPN.Hall o Fame Coach,better guy.RIP
— MarkJonesESPN (@MarkJonesESPN) April 28, 2014
Great basketball mind.. Thanks Coach, Dr Jack Ramsay.. pic.twitter.com/x7OEhMP6nl
— Reggie Miller (@ReggieMillerTNT) April 28, 2014
— Larry Dougherty (@Ldoc32) April 28, 2014
Condolences for Chris Ramsay, a fine editor at http://t.co/KGOPWzKR7o, whose father, coach Jack Ramsay, died today of cancer.
— Rick Reilly (@ReillyRick) April 28, 2014
RIP, Dr. Jack Ramsay. A legend in basketball circles and as kind and classy a person as you could ever meet. Will be sorely missed.
— Dan Shulman (@DShulman_ESPN) April 28, 2014
Cross paths many times with Dr. Jack Ramsay in early ESPN years. What a sweet, soulful man. A model configuration of energy & cool. #DrJack
— John Buccigross (@Buccigross) April 28, 2014
Dr. Jack Ramsay died in his sleep at 89, according to family, via @MikeAndMike. Sad news. Great coach. Greater man. RIP.
— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) April 28, 2014
RIP Dr Jack Ramsay: there were few better coaches, even fewer better Men. I can only hope to age as gracefully as this truly lovable guy.
— Bob Ryan (@GlobeBobRyan) April 28, 2014
— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) April 28, 2014
Saddened to hear of the passing of Dr. Jack Ramsay. His passion and smarts for basketball could only be topped by his greatness as a person.
— Linda Cohn (@lindacohn) April 28, 2014
We lost a giant of a man last night. Dr Jack Ramsay died at 89 yrs old. Anyone who has ever touched a basketball should say a prayer.#LEGEND
— Geno Auriemma (@genoauriemma) April 28, 2014
Many young producers @espn started by working with Dr Jack Ramsay. For me, 15 years later, I have rarely worked with anyone as gracious
— Seth Markman (@tunasweasel) April 28, 2014
RIP Dr. Jack Ramsay, a Philly legend and a legendary gentleman.
— Dana O'Neil (@ESPNDanaOneil) April 28, 2014
Rest in peace to Dr. Jack Ramsey. Great coach. Great man. You'll be missed dearly coach.
— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) April 28, 2014
Dr. Jack Ramsay used to call into the show and he was always just coming off a quick 6-mile run or hours of swimming…good man.
— Paul Pabst (@PaulPabst) April 28, 2014