Jack Ramsay, Portland Perfect Match

Toward the end, it got tougher for the coach, and it didn't help that in 1984, the team passed up Michael Jordan in the draft for Sam Bowie.

Ramsay was ever the optimist, though, even in those tough times. When the team traded a huge package to Denver for Kiki VanDeWeghe, Ramsay was excited about the possibilities. When VanDeWeghe scored 47 points at Kansas City in his first game as a Trail Blazer, Ramsay was beaming in the locker room after the game.

"He didn't force anything," Ramsay said at the time. "It was all so easy."

When Bowie arrived, the coach was effusive in his praise. While he didn't see the next Bill Walton, he certainly knew he had a center who could block shots, run the floor and pass -- which was perfect for his system. But it never worked out as well as planned. Injuries struck again. Ramsay departed Portland after the 1985-86 season when his contract was not renewed.

The legend and his legacy

That didn't change his legacy in Portland. He returned here many times, either as a broadcaster or to be honored or help honor others for their career with the Trail Blazers.

You could tell he loved his broadcasting career, when he was the professorial TV and radio man -- Dr. Jack -- on ESPN and in Miami for a whole new generation of NBA fans.

"He just loved the NBA," Twardzik said. "His eyes would just light up every time he walked into an arena."

He'll be forever loved in Portland, where the team, involved in a hot playoff series against Houston, plans to honor him soon.

A banner with the number 77 already hangs in the Moda Center rafters for him -- a number signifying the year of the Blazers' title run, the year that made him an NBA and local legend forever.

With all due respect to Terry Stotts, Rick Adelman, P.J. Carlesimo and all those who came before and after Jack Ramsay, this must be said:

Portland Trail Blazers fans lost their coach Monday. And there will never be another one like him.

Dwight Jaynes (@dwightjaynes) has covered the Trail Blazers for more than three decades. He now writes for CSNNW.com.

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