RIP: Dr. Jack Ramsay

Basketball legend John "Dr. Jack" Ramsay passed away yesterday at the age of 89, following a long battle with cancer.  The Hall of Fame coach and prominent basketball analyst was best known for leading the Portland Trail Blazers to their only NBA World Championship in 1977 (with former C's big man Bill Walton as their headliner) but he was equally acknowledged as an innovative educator and mentor.

"Jack's life is a beacon which guides us all," Walton explained to USA Today in 2007.  "He is our moral compass, our spiritual inspiration.  He represents the conquest of substance over hype.  He is a true saint of circumstance."

Ramsay picked up his nickname, "Dr. Jack" from both his academic achievements (1952 Master's and 1963 Doctorate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania) and his deep basketball knowledge.  He started his coaching career with his alma mater, St. Joseph's College (now University), which he led to seven Big 5 crowns and postseason appearances (including a Final Four berth) in each of his 11 seasons there.

He joined the Philadelphia 76ers in 1966-67 as general manager and immediately helped the franchise win their second NBA title.  Dr. Jack would then move from the front office to the Sixers' bench the following season and lead the team to three more playoff appearances before joining the Buffalo Braves in 1972.  With the Braves, Ramsay earned three playoff appearances as well but it was not until he joined the Blazers franchise in '76 that he shaped his NBA legacy.

Dr. Jack wound up his coaching career with the Indiana Pacers from 1986-88 and had since been imparting his wisdom as a basketball analyst for local as well as national television broadcasts.

In 2001 Ramsay would make a coaching comeback of sorts when he (unofficially) consulted for the Celtics and then head coach Jim O'Brien - his son-in-law.  O'Brien, who famously took over for Rick Pitino, was beginning his NBA head coaching career at the time and he frequently picked at his father-in-law's brilliant brain throughout his career.

But even though O'Brien's tenure with Boston was neither long (2001-2004) nor noteworthy, C's Nation was certainly privileged to have been in touch with basketball nobility like Dr. Jack.

Thank you, Dr. Jack.  Rest in peace.