LOS ANGELES - Jack Ramsay, a Hall of Fame coach who guided NBA clubs for 21 years, died in his sleep Monday at age 89 after a long battle with cancer.
Ramsay won an NBA title with the Portland Trail Blazers in 1977 and compiled an 864-783 record with 17 playoff appearances over more than two decades in stints with the Philadelphia 76ers, Portland, Buffalo Braves and Indiana Pacers.
"Jack was a great man and I don't use that term lightly," said NBA legend and Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird.
"His contributions to the game, as a coach, advisor, broadcaster will endure forever. I always learned something from him. This is a sad day for all of us in basketball and for anyone who knew Jack."
Ramsay landed his first NBA top coaching job with Philadelphia, his hometown team, in 1968 after helping build the 1966-67 championship team as its general manager.
"The Portland Trail Blazers and indeed the NBA have lost an authentic original in Dr. Jack Ramsay," said Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen. "In leading this franchise to its first NBA championship, Dr. Jack set a standard of excellence for his players, coaches and all who crossed his path.
"He was that rarest of men with a unique style that was inspirational and motivational about basketball and life itself. We loved him as a coach, as a broadcaster and as a human being."
Prior to his NBA career, Ramsay coached 11 seasons at his alma mater, St. Joseph's.
"Dr. Jack Ramsay was a legendary figure in Philadelphia and a man whose passion and contributions to this city and the game of basketball will long be remembered," said 76ers chief executive officer Scott O'Neil. "He left an indelible mark on the basketball community."
Ramsay, who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992, retired as the second-winningest coach in NBA history and spent many years as an NBA television commentator.
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