Posts Tagged ‘Bobby Gross’

Jack Ramsay: A game, a life, a vision

By Fran Blinebury, NBA.com

Whether it was as an octogenarian fitness fanatic skipping rope in a hotel exercise room, those bushy eyebrows dancing above his piercing eyes as he discussed the game he loved or watching one of his teams pass and cut and blend in perfect harmony, the images of Jack Ramsay are all about movement.

The 89-year-old coaching legend who died of cancer Monday morning was relentless in his beliefs about physical training, mental preparation and the correct way to play basketball … and never stopped actively promoting them.

As a native Philadelphian just learning about the game, it was Ramsay’s overachieving St. Joseph’s Hawks teams that swooped up and down the court of the historic Palestra in the early 1960s that first captured my attention and admiration.

In my first year covering the NBA, it was Ramsay’s harmonious vision of the game — move without the ball, make the extra pass, play as one — that made his Trail Blazers of Bill Walton, Maurice Lucas, Bobby Gross, Johnny Davis, Lionel Hollins, Dave Twardzik and the rest NBA champions in 1977. They had such style and elegance and were in tune that you could almost close your eyes and hear music.

Those Finals were the perhaps the greatest contrast in styles ever, pitting Ramsay’s Blazers against the prodigious one-on-one talents of a 76ers roster that included Julius Erving, George McGinnis, Doug Collins, Darryl Dawkins and Lloyd Free.

During one practice at The Finals, the Sixers, coached by Gene Shue, spent most of an hour jacking up jump shots, exchanging dunks and killing time. McGinnis took time out to smoke a cigarette in the bleachers. A short time later, the Blazers entered the same gym and began running though layup lines and precise drills as if they were in a Marine boot camp. (more…)

About Last Night

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat helped finish off the first weekend of the NBA season in fine fashion.

It’s good to have you back basketball. I think we can all agree on that.

The highlights from Sunday’s four-game slate can be found here in the Daily Zap:

Check out the Top 10 plays, too:

We hate to end on a sad note, but the NBA family lost one of its own over the weekend.

Portland Trail Blazers’ legend Maurice Lucas passed away at 58 after battling bladder cancer for the past two and a half years. My main man Jason Quick of the Oregonian broke the sad news Sunday night and also caught up with legendary Blazers coach Jack Ramsay, who described Lucas as the “strength” and “heart” of the Blazers’ 1977 Championship team:

Ramsay said Lucas should go down as one of the best Blazers, simply because he was the driving force, with Bill Walton, on the 1977 Championship team.

“He was the strength of the team,’’ Ramsay said. “He was The Enforcer. He was really the heart of that team. And he liked the role. He enjoyed it. He really liked being the enforcer-type player.

“Plus, he was highly skilled. A great rebounder. A great outlet passer. Threw bullets for his outlet pass. Then he could score on the post, make jump shots on the perimeter. But mostly, it was his physical persona that he carried with him that made us a different team.’’

Ramsay said Lucas “significantly” changed the momentum of the 1977 NBA Finals when he clocked Philadelphia big man Darryl Dawkins for throwing Blazers forward Bobby Gross to the floor. After a skirmish and both players being ejected, the fight became the talk of the series, even as the Blazers trailed 0-2.

But with the series coming to Portland, Lucas devised a plan. He would nip the controversy in the bud, and play a mind trick in the process.

During player introductions, after Dawkins was booed unmercifully by the Memorial Coliseum crowd, Lucas was introduced. But instead of running to where his teammates were standing, Lucas ran to the Philadelphia bench and found a stunned Dawkins.

He grabbed Dawkins’ hand and shook it, later saying he told him “No hard feelings.”

“I don’t think he said or told anybody what he would do, and I was startled myself when I saw him go over to Dawkins,’’ Ramsay said. “But it was a great tactic.’’

The Blazers never lost again, winning four straight to win the series in six games.

Rest In Peace Maurice Lucas!