Cal Ramsey, a New York City legend in high school, college and then NYC playground,died today at 81.
Per Newsday: Ramsey died at the Riverside Premier Rehabilitation and Healing Center of cardiac arrest, according to the New York Knicks.
“Cal represented the Knicks with pride for more than five decades as a player, broadcaster and one of the greatest ambassadors in New York City basketball history,” Madison Square Garden executive chairman and chief executive officer James Dolan said in a statement.
“He was the epitome of class, wisdom and dignity, and will be remembered for the thousands of young lives he influenced as a community leader. Knicks games will not be the same without Cal’s presence. He will be greatly missed.”
The eleventh pick in the 1959 NBA Draft by the St. Louis Hawks out of New York University, Ramsey was about as New York City as you could get.
A Commerce High School alum, Ramsey’s Rucker Park duels with NBA legend, Connie Hawkins were the talk of uptown in the era before social media.
A former top assistant coach with NYU’s men’s basketball team, Ramsey was must see TV as a color analyst for Knicks broadcasts in the 1970s.
A former Chairman of the New York City Sports Commission, he has been a long-time advocate for children of the city. He set the example for making a difference in the NYC.
In the last couple of years, Ramsey held an annual awards show that acknowledged pillars in the five boroughs who have done the same.
Back in October Ramsey honored WWE Hall of Famer, Mark Henry who first met Ramsey when the former two-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion competed in Foot Locker’s Slam Fest; an event where Ramsey served as commissioner.
“He’s a good recruiter,” said Henry.
“I’ve been a world champion in three sports, I’m hyper competitive and I don’t like to lose. But that is one of the reasons why we’re here. We’re here because we want to do something for someone else.”
Dignitaries who attended Ramsey’s award banquet included former New York City mayor, David Dinkins, retired WNBA and New York Liberty all star forward, Kym Hampton, Knicks legends Charles Smith and Mel Davis, Tom Hoover, President of the NBA Retired Players Association’s New York chapter and LeRoy Hendricks, Major League Baseball’s top security executive.
Other nominees at Ramsey’s award dinner were Russel Shuler, CEO & Founder of Youth Education Through Sport, Inc, Jeff Korek, a Senior Trial Partner at Gershowitz Libo & Korek, Robert Capers, nominee of former U.S. President, Barack Obama as a successor to Loretta Lynch as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
Willis Reed was also a Cal Ramsey Award Honoree. “The Captain,” authored one of the greatest stories in NBA history when he emerged from the Madison Square Garden tunnel after suffering a serious injury in Game 5 of the 1970 NBA Finals to battle Wilt Chamberlain and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Reed’s former Knicks teammate, Walt “Clyde” Frazier was also a 2018 Cal Ramsey Award Honoree. “I’m very honored to receive this award especially at Clyde’s Wine and Dine,” Frazier told the crowd Wednesday night.
The Naismith Hall of Famer’s 36 point, 19 assist effort in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Playoffs is often called the greatest performance in Knicks history. “I’ve only seen the good side of New Yorkers,” he said.
“I was in the street once and I got booed a few times when the team wasn’t thriving, but other than that, I’ve only seen the good side of New Yorkers and obviously we know you guys are the greatest fans in the world.”
Previous winners of Cal Ramsey Awards have included the founder of the Rucker Pro League, Bob McCullough; broadcasting icon Bob Wolff; WNBA star Teresa Weatherspoon; and NBA legends Earl “The Pearl” Monroe and Kiki Vandeweghe.
Ramsey was inducted into the NYU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1978 and New York City Basketball Hall of Fame in 1994.
In 2002, Ramsey received the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) Man of the Year Award, while in 2005 he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association (MBWA).
He also was honored by the Knicks with the organization’s Dick McGuire Knickerbocker Legacy Award in 2010.
For more information on Cal Ramsey and the Cal Ramsey fund, visit www.calramseyfund.org.