Philly Basketball Legend Jack Ramsay Dies at 89

Jack Ramsay led the Sixers to an NBA title in his first season as the team's general manager, and coached Saint Joseph's for a decade.

Jack Ramsay, a brilliant basketball mind from Philadelphia who coached Saint Joseph’s and the Sixers before leading the Portland Trail Blazers to an NBA title, died today at the age of 89. He had battled cancer for the last decade.

Ramsay was born in Philadelphia and graduated from Upper Darby High School. He coached his alma mater, St. Joe’s, from 1955 to 1966, winning seven Big 5 titles with the Hawks. He then became general manager of the Sixers, winning the NBA Championship in his first season with the team. He became coach of the team and executed some dubious trades, including shipping out Wilt Chamberlain, and eventually left the team after it missed the playoffs for the first time ever in 1972.

After a stint with the Buffalo Braves, Ramsay took over as coach of the Portland Trail Blazers — and, again, won the NBA championship in his first season with the club. The Blazers beat the 76ers in that NBA Finals, 4 games to 2, after the Sixers had taken a 2-0 series lead. Of course.

He coached until 1989, and spent a decade as a color commentator for Miami Heat games. He also appeared on TV as an analyst at ESPN and wrote columns for His “Dr. Jack Ramsay” moniker was not phony — he received a doctorate in education from Penn in 1963. Family members told ESPN Ramsay died peacefully in his sleep.