DALLAS — Dr. Jack Ramsay is a Basketball Hall of Famer and one of the winningest coaches in NBA history, but for a time at ESPN he found himself taking direction from someone else: his son, Chris.
Dr. Jack was contributing mainly to television at the time and Chris was his producer.
“He produced many of the segments I did and he was very demanding,” Dr. Jack recalls.
“He would tell me to correct my posture or bring more energy. I’d say, ‘Is that your way of telling me we have to do it again?’ and he’d say ‘Yes.’
“He always had a way of communicating in a way everyone could understand and accept.
“Even now, as I do radio, he’ll listen to the broadcast while watching the TV presentation.
“He’ll occasionally call with feedback. He’s my barometer for the work I do.”
Perhaps the attention to detail is one of many traits Chris inherited from his father.
Dr. Jack was a frogman in the U.S. Navy, which is now known as the Navy SEALs.
Today, at age 86, he still does at least 50 pushups and situps as part of his regular routine.
He also swims in the Gulf of Mexico while home in Naples, Fla.
Dr. Jack earned a masters and doctorate degree from the University of Pennsylvania while raising five children.
He did that while working as the athletic director, head coach and a faculty member at St. Joseph’s College, his alma mater.
“It’s incredible to look back at all my Dad has accomplished.
“In addition to his professional accomplishments, he was also there for my mother during her 10-year fight with Alzheimer’s, and he did it while battling cancer himself,” Chris said.
“All in his 70′s and 80′s. He’s amazing.”
The NBA Finals, which continue with Game 5 Thursday (9 p.m. ET, ABC, ESPN Radio), are one of the best times of the year for father and son.
Dr. Jack, who joined the company in 1991, calls the games on ESPN Radio. Chris is now ESPN.com’s NBA senior deputy editor.
While they talk at least three or four times a week, The Finals bring them together in person.
“I’m lucky to be able to spend this part of my professional life with my Dad,” said Chris, who joined ESPN in 1997.
“I consider him my best friend and it’s a blessing to spend this time together while working for ESPN and covering the NBA.
“We’re both living the dream.”
The Ramsays always find time for a few meals together while on the road, not to mention an occasional haircut.
“We both bring our clippers, but Chris is more skilled using his own equipment,” Dr. Jack joked.
“It’s like a baseball player using his own bat.”
“It’s not a real challenge,” Chris said. “We have similar hair styles.”
Whether working together, spending time as family or sharing a laugh, it’s clear to see the mutual respect and pride the Ramsays share for one another.
“I’m very proud of him. He has done very well,” Dr. Jack said.
“I haven’t found anybody that doesn’t love Chris.”
“Everyone loves my Dad,” Chris said. “He’s made lasting impressions on people around the world. I’m honored to be in his family and to carry his name.
“I have people come up to me all the time and tell me, ‘You’re my second favorite Ramsay at ESPN.’”