Jack Ramsay Dies: NBA Coaching Legend Succumbs To Cancer At 89

Dr. Jack Ramsay died Monday at his home in Naples, Florida, after the Hall of Fame NBA coach fought cancer for more than a decade.

The 89-year-old Ramsay spent 20 seasons as an NBA coach, emphasizing ball movement and selflessness. His greatest accomplishment came in 1977, when he led the Portland Trailblazers to the NBA title. Ramsay also won the title in 1967 with the Philadelphia 76ers, serving as the team’s general manager.

Jack Ramsay said his coaching style was inspired by his time serving in the Navy during World War II, where he served in the front-runner of today’s Navy SEALs.

“I learned how important physical conditioning is. I learned how to focus on an objective in spite of all kinds of hazards. I learned how to deal with stress, too,” he wrote. “If you make a wrong move with explosives, it could be deadly. If you’re there when they blow up the beach, you get blown up, too. So you need to get your job done correctly… then pull the fuse with enough lag time for you to clear the area completely and get picked up by the small boats.”

“I also learned that my connection with my team members was best handled by being in there with them.”

For the past 10 years Ramsay had battled melanoma, with tumors spreading to his lungs and brain. He also spent many years caring for his wife, Jean, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2001. She died in 2010.

After his passing, Jack Ramsay was remembered by many NBA players and coaches.

“We all love Jack Ramsay, and we could never thank him enough for what he’s done,” said Bill Walton, Blazers center on the ’77 team. “He’s just such a phenomenal example of what a full life can possibly engulf.”

Dr. Jack Ramsay will be laid to rest on Thursday.

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