Former head coach of the Indiana Pacers, and mentor to others, Jack Ramsay, passed away Monday at the age of 89. Ramsay had been battling cancer for a number of years. He was born February 21, 1925 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Jack Ramsay was the father-in-law of former Pacers coach Jim O’Brien, serving as a great mentor for O’Brien while he coached Indiana. O’Brien would then mentor his assistant with the Pacers in Frank Vogel, now the current coach for Indiana. Ramsay led the Indiana Pacers for two full seasons in 1986-87 and 1987-88. He stepped down as head coach in the beginning of the 1988-89 season when Indiana started 0-7.
Here are a few words about Ramsay from Pacers’ owner Herb Simon, team president Larry Bird and consultant 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.” –Simon
“Jack was a great man and I don’t use that term lightly. 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.”
“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.”
Ramsay led the 1977 Portland Trail Blazers to an NBA Championship and was elected into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992.
Ramsay finished his professional coaching career with a record of 864-783 (.525) while coaching four different teams.