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Jack McKinney, Trail Blazers Championship Coach, Passes Away at 83

McKinney assisted alongside Jack Ramsay during Portland’s title run in 1977.

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The Trail Blazers franchise lost part of their championship legacy today, as former Assistant Coach Jack McKinney passed away. McKinney served alongside Jack Ramsay, coaching Bill Walton and teammates to the 1977 NBA Championship. He later served as head coach for the Los Angeles Lakers, Indiana Pacers, and Kansas City Kings.

The Trail Blazers sent out the following press release commemorating McKinney’s accomplishments:

Jack McKinney, whose NBA coaching career included serving as a Portland Trail Blazers assistant coach, has passed away at age 83. He is best remembered locally as the lead assistant for Hall of Fame Head Coach Dr. Jack Ramsay for three seasons, including the Trail Blazers 1977 NBA Championship team.

Prior to joining the Trail Blazers staff in 1976, McKinney was an assistant coach in Milwaukee. After his success on Ramsay’s staff in Portland, McKinney was named head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers in 1979. Unfortunately, a serious bicycle accident only 14 games into his Lakers tenure forced McKinney to take medical leave. That same Lakers team later won the 1979 NBA Championship under Paul Westhead.

“He was both a good friend and excellent assistant coach under Jack Ramsay, and we’re sorry to learn of his passing,” said Trail Blazers Ambassador and former broadcaster Bill Schonely about McKinney. “Jack McKinney really knew the game of basketball, which made him so appealing as an NBA head coach during his career.”

McKinney eventually became head coach of the Indiana Pacers, where he accumulated a coaching record of 125-203 from 1980-84. He was the NBA’s Coach of the Year following his first season with the Pacers. In 1984 after being let go by the Pacers, McKinney was briefly head coach for the former Kansas City Kings (now Sacramento), but resigned after a 1-8 start.