FRIDAY MEDIA COLUMN
Former Heat broadcaster Jack Ramsay, a Hall of Fame coach and one of the most popular announcers in South Florida history, said he needs to begin immediate medical treatment and his broadcasting career is likely over.
Ramsay, 88, declined to discuss the nature of his medical condition. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1999 and received treatment, several years ago, for melanomas “all over my body.”
Ramsay said Thursday that the looming treatment will prevent him from working the remainder of the NBA playoffs, including The Finals, for ESPN Radio. He had been scheduled to announce Game 3 of the Heat-Bulls series on Friday. And he said he’s not planning to do broadcast work next season, barring a change of heart.
“I’m going back to Naples and will start the treatment on Monday there,” Ramsay said by phone Thursday. “I have a specific time period where I must have this and cannot do it if I’m traveling around. I’ll miss doing the broadcasts.”
Of his spirits, he said, “I’m fine. I’ve been through all this many times.”
Even before learning this week that he needs treatment, Ramsay said this season very likely would be his last in the booth.
“I’m not enjoying it like I used to, and travel is difficult,” he said. “Before this season, I did the games mostly with Jim Durham, and then he passed away after the first game this season.
“I enjoyed working with him, which is why I extended my [stay with ESPN]. I will miss the association with the players and coaches. It has been a great ride.”
Affectionately known as “Dr. Jack,” Ramsay --- who has a doctorate degree in education from Pennsylvania -- has distinguished himself throughout his life: for his class and integrity; for his coaching --- he guided the Portland Trail Blazers to the 1977 NBA title and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992 – and finally, for his substantive, authoritative analysis as a broadcaster.
He has announced games since retiring as a coach early in the 1998-89 season and worked as the Heat’s TV analyst from 1992 through 2000.
Ramsay endeared himself to Heat fans not only with his cogent commentary but also his playful expressions, such as “Slamma!” after dunks and “Lenard!” after big baskets by former Heat guard Voshon Lenard.
Ramsay and Hubie Brown worked as co-analysts on last year’s Finals broadcasts on ESPN Radio. ESPN hasn’t named a replacement, but Chris Mullin will fill in Friday.
AROUND THE DIAL
### ABC will end up airing only one Heat game before the NBA Finals (Game 4 of the Milwaukee series), but that’s partly because of factors beyond ABC’s control. ESPN/ABC said the networks did not ask the league to schedule Game 3 of Heat-Bulls on Saturday night, when ABC has a prime-time window.
That’s because ABC is content airing Knicks-Pacers on Saturday night, and ESPN is pleased to get Game 3 of Heat-Bulls on Friday.
ABC would have preferred Game 4 of Heat-Bulls on Sunday -- instead of Spurs-Warriors -- but the Heat game was scheduled for Monday instead because of a potential NHL conflict in the United Center on Sunday. Meanwhile, TNT gets the entire Eastern Conference Finals this season.
### Heat ratings keep soaring, with Game 1 of the Bulls series generating an 18.2 in Dade/Broward homes and Game 2 a 19.5 (317,000 homes). Both ratings are well ahead of the 13.5 for the Dolphins’ opener against the Texans last season.
### Among the winners at this week’s Sports Emmys: NBC’s Bob Costas (studio host), NBC’s Al Michaels (play-by-play), TNT’s Charles Barkley (studio analyst) and NBC’s Cris Collinsworth (game analyst).
### More migration of sports to cable: CBS this week announced that TBS will carry the Final Four’s two national semifinal games in 2014 and 2015, with CBS airing the championship game both years. But in 2016 and every other year through 2024, TBS will carry all three games of the Final Four.
### The Atlantic Coast Conference is exploring the launch of its own TV network.
### ESPN president John Skipper predicts “in the future, you’re going to be able to see every game your school plays” – partly through ESPN3’s broadband service.
### Fox Sports 1, a new all-sports network that is currently operating as Speed Channel on many cable systems, has set Aug. 17 for its launch, with programming including studio shows, college sports, auto racing, soccer and Major League Baseball, among other fare.
“We’ve got a long head start,” Skipper said of other sports networks challenging ESPN. “We’ve never minded competition.”
### Skipper told us he wants more women in the booth for men’s events. Beth Mowins calls college football and Doris Burke routinely works as an analyst on NBA and men’s NCAA games.
### Bomani Jones, who has a weekly stint on Dan Le Batard's 790 The Ticket radio show, tweeted that he's moving to Miami and will appear daily on Le Batard's weekday ESPN show. Jones also will do writing and other TV work for ESPN.
### I'm on Twitter now at @flasportsbuzz