When Dr. Jack helped the Celts


Hall of Fame coach Dr. Jack Ramsay passed away Monday at the age of 89. We encourage you to read all the coverage to appreciate his impact on basketball, his family, and pretty much anyone who crossed his path.

Dr. Ramsay's passing got us thinking back to a brief cameo he made with the Celtics back in 2001 when his son-in-law, Jim O'Brien, was coaching the green. From Peter May in the Boston Globe from October of that year:

They walked out to the floor side by side. It was Jim O'Brien's first exhibition game in his first full season as head coach of the Boston Celtics. It was Jack Ramsay's first game as the Celtics' Unofficial Gray Eminence for the coach, who also happens to be his son-in-law.

The presence of the venerable Ramsay during these first two weeks of training camp has been a boon to the new coach. O'Brien has a Hall of Fame mind at his beck and call at every practice (and probably at the dinner table as well). Ramsay, 76, won almost 1,110 games as a coach in college and in the NBA and was named one of the top 10 coaches in NBA history in 1996. He knows his stuff.

Needless to say, "in-law" in the O'Brien house doesn't conjure up images of hard-of-hearing retirees who don't know when to leave or when to stop talking. O'Brien and Ramsay talk often during the season, probably more than most in-laws do. After O'Brien took over last January from Rick Pitino, the calls got more frequent, the talk more inquisitive. When O'Brien opened his first training camp as the Celtics' head coach, he asked his father-in-law to come along for the ride.

It's been as much fun for Ramsay as it has been helpful for O'Brien.

"It's the first time I've been on the floor with him when he's actually been coaching as the head coach," Ramsay said before last night's exhibition opener against the Hornets. "To watch him coach every day has really been very rewarding for me. I think he's done an excellent job, and the players have been very receptive to what he's trying to do."

Ramsay will accompany the Celtics to Texas for their weekend whirl through the Lone Star State to face Dallas and San Antonio. He'll part company when the team heads on to Charlotte early next week. He'll then return to his regular gig as radio analyst for ESPN.

He'll also expect his share of calls again this season.

"I watched all the [Celtics] games before, but this year, I suspect they'll be a lot more nerve-wracking," Ramsay said. "Last year, so many of their games went down to the wire, literally. And it's always different when you're the head coach instead of the assistant. It's a big transition. But I see Jim as very much in control, poised. I'm impressed."