Jack Ramsay, who won nearly 1,100 games as a major college and National Basketball Association coach, is facing a fight he knows he can’t win.
Ramsay, 88, who has been treated for various forms of cancers late in his life, now has a marrow syndrome, a condition in which his body is not producing enough blood cells.
“I don’t want to make an issue of this,” the former Buffalo Braves coach said recently from his Naples, Fla., home. He said he was resigned to not winning this health fight.
“The best I can hope for is a life extension and I’m doing pretty good with that,” he said.
Ramsay said he seems to be doing well with a medication he hopes will extend his life for a year or maybe two.
Ramsay, who coached for about 40 years then was a commentator on NBA games for more than 20 years, stepped down from his role with ESPN Radio in May.
“The playoffs had just begun. My last game was Chicago at Brooklyn on May 4,” Ramsay recalled.
It was then Ramsay announced that his condition required immediate medical attention and that he couldn’t complete the NBA season along side play-by-play voice Kevin Calabro.
Calabro had succeeded Jim Durham, who died in November 2012 and was Ramsay’s broadcast partner since 1996.
Ramsay returned to Naples to begin treatment. His five children and some of his 13 grandchildren look after him there.
“They’ve all been terrific helping out here,” Ramsay said.
Ramsay was coach of the Buffalo Braves for four seasons (1972-76), making the playoffs three times. Some of the accomplishments of those teams were not equalled by the Braves’ successors, the Los Angeles (formerly San Diego) Clippers, until this past season.
His 1974-75 Braves won 11 games in a row, a record the Clippers could not top until when they went 17 games this season without a loss. That same Buffalo team won an opening round miniseries over the Philadelphia 76ers. The franchise did not win another postseason series until 2005-06.
The franchise record for wins, the 49 set in 1974-75, stood until this year’s Clippers went 56-36 and won the franchise’s first division title.