Jack Ramsay

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Jack Ramsay
Jack Ramsay (6).jpeg
Sport(s) Basketball
Biographical details
Born (1925-02-21) February 21, 1925 (age 89)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Saint Joseph's Hawks
Philadelphia 76ers
Buffalo Braves
Portland Trail Blazers
Indiana Pacers
Head coaching record
Overall NBA: 864-783 (.525)[1]
Accomplishments and honors
Portland Trail Blazers (1976-1977)

Enshrined into Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (1992)

Top 10 Coaches in NBA History (1996)[2]
Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1992

John T. "Jack" Ramsay (born February 21, 1925) is an American former basketball coach, commonly known as "Dr. Jack" (as he holds an earned doctorate, see below). He is best known for coaching the Portland Trail Blazers to the 1977 NBA Title, and for his broadcasting work with the Indiana Pacers, the Miami Heat, and for ESPN TV and ESPN Radio. Ramsay is among the most respected coaches in NBA history[2] and a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.


Ramsay graduated from Upper Darby High School (UDHS) in 1942. He was inducted into the school's Wall of Fame in 1979.[3] He received his bachelor's degree from Saint Joseph's College in 1949, and his master's and doctorate degrees (the latter in education) from the University of Pennsylvania in 1952 and 1963, respectively.

Coaching career[edit]


After coaching in the high school and minor-league ranks for the early postwar years, he became head coach at his alma mater, Saint Joseph's College, in 1955. In his first season, Ramsay would lead the Hawks to their first Big 5 crown and their first-ever postseason berth (in the NIT). Ramsay would remain there through 1966, leading the Hawks to six more Big 5 crowns and ten postseason appearances (including a Final Four) in all.


Immediately after leaving Saint Joseph's, he was hired as general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers, who won an NBA title in his first season in the front office. In 1968, he left the front office to take over as head coach of the Sixers. In his four seasons as coach, he led the team to three playoff appearances. However, he traded away future Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain and Chet Walker. While these trades may have made sense on paper, Ramsay got very little in return. While the Sixers continued to contend during his tenure on the bench, it was obvious that they were nowhere near the powerhouse they had once been. The collapse came in 1971-72, when the Sixers tumbled to a 30-52 record and missed the playoffs for the first time in their history (dating all the way back to 1946, when they were still the Syracuse Nationals). After the season, Ramsay took the head coaching job with the Buffalo Braves. His tenure was almost a mirror image of his time with the Sixers—four seasons, three playoff berths; however, he did not leave Buffalo in the sort of wreckage that had occurred in Philadelphia.

His next coaching stop in the NBA was his most famous, with the Portland Trail Blazers. When he arrived in 1976, the Blazers had not made the playoffs or compiled a winning record in their six-year history. However, he arrived just as a young team, led by Bill Walton, started to gel, and also benefited from the ABA dispersal draft in the 1976 off-season, in which the Blazers picked up hard-nosed power forward Maurice Lucas. In his first season in Portland (1977), Ramsay led the Blazers to their first and only NBA title to date. In his second season, the Blazers were 50-10 after 60 games and favored to repeat as champions before the always-fragile Walton, in the midst of a season in which he would be named the league MVP, broke his foot, the first of numerous major injuries to his legs and ankles that radically shortened his career (though he managed to stay in the league until 1987). Ramsay continued to coach the Blazers until 1986 with general success, although he was never able to approach the level of his first seasons there. During his last nine seasons in Portland, the Blazers only won two playoff series. He also coached the Western Conference side in the 1978 All-Star Game.

Ramsay took over as coach of the Indiana Pacers for the 1986-87 season, leading them to only their second non-losing record as an NBA team. However, he was never able to duplicate that success, and he resigned during the 1988-89 season after only 7 games (and an 0-7 start). At that time, he was second on the all-time wins list for NBA coaches, trailing Red Auerbach.

Broadcasting and media[edit]

Ramsay later spent nine years as a television color commentator for the Philadelphia 76ers and the Miami Heat, and continues to do NBA game commentary for ESPN TV and ESPN Radio. Dr. Jack worked for the Miami Heat from 1992 until 2002. The games were broadcast from South Florida's Sunshine Network (now Sun Sports), Fox Sports Florida, and sometimes local Miami station WBFS (then a UPN affiliate). Ramsay worked alongside announcer Eric Reid, who still works Miami Heat games. During Ramsay's tenure as the Heat's commentator, he developed some memorable nicknames and phrases for the Heat players. Whenever All-Star point guard Tim Hardaway would make a 3-point shot, Ramsay would shout, "this away, that away, Hardaway!" Or if any Heat player made a nice shot, you would hear Ramsay scream "bottom of the net!"

In addition to his TV and radio work, Ramsay has also authored several books, including The Coach's Art (ISBN 0-917304-36-5) and Dr. Jack's Leadership Lessons Learned From a Lifetime in Basketball (ISBN 0-471-46929-7).


Ramsay's son-in-law Jim O'Brien previously was head coach of the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, Indiana Pacers. Grandson Geoff Dailey played baseball at Wesleyan University.[citation needed]

Ramsay is a cancer survivor, and a devout Roman Catholic.[4]

On May 10, 2013, he announced he would be immediately starting medical treatment for cancer.

Head coaching record[edit]


Regular season G Games coached W Games won L Games lost W–L % Win-loss %
Post season PG Playoff games PW Playoff wins PL Playoff losses PW–L % Playoff win-loss %
Team Year G W L W–L% Finish PG PW PL PW–L% Result
PHI 1968–69 82 55 27 .671 2nd in East 5 1 4 .200 Lost in Division Semifinals
PHI 1969–70 82 42 40 .512 4th in East 5 1 4 .200 Lost in Division Semifinals
PHI 1970–71 82 47 35 .573 2nd in Atlantic 7 3 4 .429 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
PHI 1971–72 82 30 52 .366 3rd in Atlantic Missed Playoffs
BUF 1972–73 82 21 61 .256 3rd in Atlantic Missed Playoffs
BUF 1973–74 82 42 40 .512 3rd in Atlantic 6 2 4 .333 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
BUF 1974–75 82 49 33 .598 2nd in Atlantic 7 3 4 .429 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
BUF 1975–76 82 46 36 .561 2nd in Atlantic 9 4 5 .444 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
POR 1976–77 82 49 33 .598 2nd in Pacific 19 14 5 .737 Won NBA Championship
POR 1977–78 82 58 24 .707 1st in Pacific 6 2 4 .333 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
POR 1978–79 82 45 37 .549 4th in Pacific 3 1 2 .333 Lost in First Round
POR 1979–80 82 38 44 .463 4th in Pacific 3 1 2 .333 Lost in First Round
POR 1980–81 82 45 37 .549 3rd in Pacific 3 1 2 .333 Lost in First Round
POR 1981–82 82 42 40 .512 5th in Pacific Missed Playoffs
POR 1982–83 82 46 36 .561 4th in Pacific 7 3 4 .429 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
POR 1983–84 82 48 34 .585 2nd in Pacific 5 2 3 .400 Lost in First Round
POR 1984–85 82 42 40 .512 2nd in Pacific 9 4 5 .444 Lost in Conf. Semifinals
POR 1985–86 82 40 42 .482 2nd in Pacific 4 1 3 .250 Lost in First Round
IND 1986–87 82 41 41 .500 4th in Central 4 1 3 .250 Lost in First Round
IND 1987–88 82 38 44 .463 6th in Central Missed Playoffs
IND 1988–89 7 0 7 .000 (resigned) -
Career 1647 864 783 .525 102 44 58 .431


  1. ^ "Jack Ramsay". Basketball Reference. Sports Reference, LLC. Retrieved 13 June 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Top 10 Coaches in NBA History". NBA.com. NBA Media Ventures, LLC. Retrieved 2009-01-30. 
  3. ^ "Upper Darby High School Wall of Fame". Upper Darby School District. Retrieved 2009-01-30. 
  4. ^ http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/columns/story?columnist=ramsay_drjack&page=drjackexcerpt