By Kevin Rader, WTHR political reporter - bio | email
Ramsay photo courtesy Indiana Pacers
Hall of Fame and former Pacers basketball coach Jack Ramsay has died. He was 89.
His death was announced Monday by ESPN. Ramsay worked as a broadcaster at the network until last season. No cause of death was immediately given, though Ramsay had battled cancer for many years and was placed in hospice care late last week.
Longtime Pacer fans will remember when he coach the Pacers in the 1980's. Dr Jack Ramsay came to Indianapolis after 10 seasons in Portland, where he took the Blazers to the NBA title in 1977. He moved to Indianapolis in 1986.
"I know people here expect the team is going to win. It is my job to make that happen. I plan to do that," he said at the news conference announcing his hiring in August of that year.
He took the Pacers to the playoffs in his very first year here. He won 79 games overall with the Pacers and lost 92. He was also Donnie Walsh's very first hire.
"He had a great impact on who we drafted at the time, in drafting Reggie and Rick Smits. Jack was very involved with me in making that decision, Walsh remembered. "He was a great coach. Not a good coach, a great coach. Great teacher but more than that, he was a better man than all that."
"Basically my mentor's mentor," current Pacer Coach Frank Vogel remarked. Vogel is really part of the Ramsay coaching tree. Former Pacer boss Jim O'Brien was Dr. Jack's son-in-law and O'Brien brought Vogel to Indianapolis.
"Just a genuine, genuine, genuine human being. A good man," he continued.
Roy Hibbert remembers the man who came to practice occasionally to visit his son-in-law and offer the players some tips.
"He seemed like a knowledgeable guy to me," Hibbert stated after Monday's practice.
Overall, Dr. Jack Ramsay won more than 800 games in 21 years as a head coach in the NBA. He used that expertise when he transitioned into a career in broadcasting once his coaching career had ended, becoming one of the league's most revered radio and television analysts.
"He really made his mark on the NBA that will be there for a long time," Walsh noted.
Walsh said Ramsay's death is a very personal loss for him.
The Pacers will remember Ramsay with a moment of silence before Monday night's Game 5 of the seven game series with the Atlanta Hawks.