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Remembering Basketball Hall of Famer Jack Ramsay

by Erik Horne Published: April 28, 2014

Basketball Hall of Fame coach and former TV analyst Jack Ramsay passed away Monday morning at the age of 89, and the entire hoops community followed with praise and reverence for one of the all-time basketball minds.

As a basketball fan but someone who won’t even pretend to understand every nuance of the game, I truly appreciated what Dr. Jack Ramsay brought to a broadcast. He and Hubie Brown are those special types – sage wisdom guys that you just shut up and listen to because, when it comes to basketball, you know that they know more than you could ever know (get all that?)

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to read David Halberstam’s outstanding “Breaks of the Game,” which chronicled the great Portland Trail Blazers team of the late 1970’s. Ramsay was the coach of Portland’s NBA championship winning team of 1977 – the only title in Blazers history. But by the time I started watching basketball as a kid in the late-1980’s and early-1990’s, Ramsey was well-removed from his coaching days. Before reading “Breaks,” I knew of Ramsay as just the older analyst on ESPN games, so reading about Ramsay — how brilliant he was and how he dealt with players, coaches, the front office and the like — was insightful. If you want to understand why Ramsay is so revered by so many people in the basketball community, look no further than “Breaks.”

Or you could just listen to him talk. Here’s Ramsay back in 2010 on the Celtics-Lakers rivalry:

Or you could just look at how people responded to word of Ramsay’s passing:




Or you could watch this short ESPN tribute:

Or you could read these fine words from Ramsay’s son, senior director Chris, who wrote this piece today in his father’s memory with this great quote at the end.

If he were here today, he would say, “Use your imagination. Imagine the life you want to live, and live it.”

by Erik Horne
Online Sports Editor
Erik Horne joined The Oklahoman as a sports web editor/producer in September 2013, following a five-year stint at The Ardmoreite (Ardmore) – first as a sports writer, then sports editor. At The Ardmoreite, Horne reported on everything from prep...
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