Frank Vernon Ramsey, Jr. (born July 13, 1931– July 8, 2018) is an American former professional basketball player and coach. A 6-3 guard, he played his entire nine-year (1954–1964) NBA career with the Boston Celtics and played a major role in the early part of their dynasty, winning seven championships. Ramsey was also a head coach for the Kentucky Colonels of the ABA during the 1970–1971 season.
After playing his rookie season with the Celtics (1954–1955), Ramsey spent one year in the military before rejoining the team. In the eight seasons he played after military service, he was a member of seven championship teams (1957, 1959–1964). He was a major contributor of the Celtics dynasty, playing behind the duo of Bob Cousy and Bill Sharman and playing with Bill Russell, Sam Jones, K. C. Jones, Tom Heinsohn and John Havlicek. In his 623 NBA games Ramsey scored 8378 points for an average of 13.4 points per game. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1981. His #23 is retired by the Celtics.
Auerbach is often credited throughout basketball with creating the sixth man. Though Ramsey was one of the Celtics’ best players, he felt more comfortable coming off the bench and Auerbach wanted him fresh and in the lineup at the end of close games. Ramsey was the first in a series of sixth men who won championship rings with the Celtics. In the championships the Celtics won after Ramsey’s retirement, they have had successful sixth men such as Havlicek, Paul Silas, Kevin McHale, Bill Walton and James Posey.
Ramsey was mentioned in the episode “If I Could See Me Now” of Married… with Children. Bud asked Al the trivia question, “Who was known as the best sixth man in basketball? He played for the Celtics”, to which Al nonchalantly replied, “Frank Ramsey”. However, little did Al know that Bud was answering a $100 trivia question from the television.
Ramsey’s best statistical season was 1957–1958; he averaged 16.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. It was also his only post-military season in which the Celtics did not win the NBA championship; the Bob Pettit-led St. Louis Hawks (who also featured Cliff Hagan, Ramsey’s ex-college teammate) defeated them in the NBA Finals.
Career highlights and awards
7× NBA champion (1957, 1959–1964)
No. 23 retired by Boston Celtics
NCAA champion (1951)
Consensus second-team All-American (1954)
Second-team All-American – AP, UPI (1952)
Third-team All-American – AP, UPI (1951)
Points 8,378 (13.4 ppg)
Rebounds 3,410 (5.5 rpg)
Assists 1,134 (1.8 apg)