The entire NBA community has been affected deeply by the passing of Hall of Fame coach Jack Ramsay, 89, earlier today. One of the most revered figures in basketball who led the Portland Trail Blazers to the 1977 NBA championship and then became a highly respected broadcaster, Ramsay left an indelible impact on the game of basketball and the many great athletes and minds the sport has ever produced.
Among the countless many is the Pacers organization, to whom Ramsay served as head coach for two entire seasons, before resigning after only seven games into his third season. In his first season with the team (1986-87), Ramsay led the Pacers to the playoffs with a 41-41 record, a 15-win improvement from a year prior (26-56) under George Irvine. The Pacers was the last team Ramsay ever coached.
“Jack was a great man and I don’t use that term lightly," said Pacers team president, Larry Bird in an official statement. "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.”
"My thoughts and prayers go out to the Ramsay family... Thank you for believing in a skinny kid from Riverside CA in '87.. Great friend," wrote Pacers Hall of Fame player, Reggie Miller on Twitter.
“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.” -- Donnie Walsh
“The Indiana Pacers express their sincerest sorrow at the passing of Dr. Jack Ramsay. 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.” -- Team Owner, Herb Simon
"What I learned from Jack is no matter how adverse the situation, you try to handle it with dignity and class. Jack Ramsay is a Hall of Famer, he was a great coach who has an NBA Championship ring from when he coached the Portland Trail Blazers. But as good as his basketball resume is, it pales in comparison to his resume as a person." -- Pacers Director of Basketball Media Relations and former Pacers beat writer, David Benner
In his 21 seasons as an NBA head coach, Ramsay amassed a total of 864 wins in 1,647 total games. His biggest victory, however, is in the game of life, as evidenced by the many he has affected in a very positive way. His family announced his death, saying he "led the greatest life that one could lead."
R.I.P. John Travilla "Dr. Jack" Ramsay (February 21, 1925 – April 28, 2014).