Legendary long-time basketball coach Dr. Jack Ramsay died after a decade-long battle with cancer at the age of 89 late Sunday night.
While Ramsay was more well-known for both coaching the Portland Trail Blazers to the 1977 NBA title as well as his NBA commentary for ESPN, the legendary coach played his college ball at Saint Joseph's while he also led the Hawks to their only Final Four appearance in school history as coach in 1961.
Ramsay was an impressive 234-72 in his eleven years on Hawk Hill and quite rightly has been honored by the University as a member of the school's athletics Hall of Fame as well as its Basketball Hall of Fame. Furthermore, the Ramsay Center, home to the offices, locker rooms, study spaces and film rooms of the Saint Joseph's men's and women's basketball teams, was named in his honor in 2009.
Ramsay also was the guide for five eventual NBA head coaches during his time at Saint Joseph's as Matt Goukas, Jim Lynam, Jack McKinney, Jim O'Brien and Paul Westhead all wound up becoming head coaches at the professional level after working under Ramsay's tutelage.
Ramsay was known as a fitness freak and he brought many of those traits into coaching with his emphasis on running and ball movement becoming paramount to his success at both the collegiate and professional level.
After his coaching career, Ramsay was a color commentator for the Philadelphia 76ers as well as the Miami Heat while also gaining a national audience working for ESPN.
Despite being diagnosed with melanoma in 2004 and fighting through many tumors and other forms of cancer, Ramsay continued to broadcast playoff games for ESPN Radio through last season.
Ramsay was a hit as a broadcaster as he was able to relate both the casual fan as well as the die-hard fan who has intricate knowledge of the game. It is hard to imagine listening to a game with Ramsay on the call without learning something.
At a time where basketball is being overshadowed by the ramblings of Donald Sterling, it is important that the legacy of Dr. Jack Ramsay is not similarly overshadowed.
Ramsay was a picture of all that was right with basketball as he won with dignity and grace, while gracing us with his presence in the broadcast booth long after his coaching career ended.
Dr. Jack Ramsay was a legend who will be missed, not only by the Saint Joseph's University community, but the basketball community as a whole.