Jack Ramsay, who led the Portland Trail Blazers to their only NBA championship in 1977, died Monday at his home in Naples, Fla. Family members report that he died peacefully in his sleep after a 15 year-long battle with cancer. He was 89.
Ramsay coached for 20 years in the NBA, and during that time made the playoffs 16 times. He continued his career as an ESPN analyst and was inducted into The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992.
But for all his national success, its his legacy with the Portland Trail Blazers that many people here are thinking about today. This is how Dave Deckard of Blazersedge describes what Ramsay meant to basketball here:
To this day Blazer fans tend to favor team basketball, hate lazy or soft players, and view one-dimensional, ball-hogging scorers with suspicion … Our cultural memory still rises in response to plays embedded in our DNA during the Ramsay / Championship era … [Ramsay] changed the way we viewed the game, our franchise, its players, and in some ways even each other. If Jack Ramsay had not graced Portland’s sidelines 35 years ago the words we share every day and the community they form would not be the same.
Here’s ESPN’s tribute:
What’s your memory of Jack Ramsay?