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Jack Ramsay's radio career still going strong

The 85-year-old former coach gives credit to play-by-play announcer Jim Durham for making their ESPN Radio broadcast team work.

June 06, 2010|By Diane Pucin

Here's how Jack Ramsay learned to become an NBA radio analyst:

Back in the mid-1990s, after his accomplished basketball coaching career, ESPN Radio offered Ramsay a job alongside the man Ramsay calls the best play-by-play talent in the country, Jim Durham. Ramsay told Durham he wasn't sure about how to do this radio thing.

"I think we worked it out well," Ramsay said Sunday before he, Durham and Hubie Brown called Game 2 of the NBA Finals at Staples Center.

"Jim takes the action up to the score, then after the score he will pause and if I have something to say about the strategy or what a coach has done or what a player has tried that got him open, then I'll say it and then I'll give Jim the microphone back," Ramsay said. "It's kind of like handing him the ball in the frontcourt."

During the Finals, there is more handing off. Brown is handling most of the Lakers analysis for the national broadcast and Ramsay the dissection of the Celtics' play. A year ago, Durham was bumped off the Finals broadcast team in favor of Mike Tirico. Tirico is busy with the World Cup this year, so Durham and Ramsay get to keep doing what they did all season, with an assist from Brown.

Ramsay turned 85 in February. He said he has no pressing desire to retire, but also no pressing desire to find out that he's not wanted.

"I don't want to hang around and then find out that behind the scenes they're saying, 'How are we going to tell him his time is up?' I don't want to hear that."

Ramsay said he will talk to ESPN Radio producer John Martin after the season and ask for the honest truth. "I can take it," Ramsay said, laughing.

And back on television

The best exchange of the night between ABC/ESPN analysts Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson came early in the fourth quarter after Nate Robinson sparked the Celtics.

Van Gundy said, "I've got to give credit to [Boston Coach] Doc Rivers to have the courage to put in somebody who has not played in the first three quarters to start the fourth quarter of a game that was tied."

Jackson responded, "It's an easier call than it looks on the floor when the Lakers have Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar; it's easier to say you're going with Nate Robinson."

Glad for the cameras

The best picture of the night captured Celtics guard Ray Allen's face, scrunched up into the look of combined rage and horror that your mother offered when you got the rogue "D" in calculus, as halftime arrived — just after the Lakers cut their deficit from 14 points to six.


ABC/ESPN's Mike Breen calls it "a terrific new rule," the one that allows officials to check replays on certain plays in the final two minutes of regulation or overtime.

The officials went to check whether a ball went out of bounds off the Lakers' Pau Gasol, which was the call on the floor, or Kevin Garnett. After seeing several angles, and as the officials went back onto the court, Breen said, "They change the call." Except the ball was handed to the Celtics. Breen trusted his eyes. But he should have kept looking at where the ball ended up.

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