Jim Marsh, a former Sonic TV broadcaster and a beloved architect of Seattle-area youth basketball, died Monday afternoon in a Portland-area facility. He was 73.
Marsh, a stalwart in the Seattle sports community for decades, had lived with Parkinson’s disease since being diagnosed in 2004.
“When he got the Parkinson’s diagnosis, he didn’t let that change him,” said Seattle-area radio broadcaster Mike Gastineau. “It impacted him pretty quickly. There was a courage and a bravery in the way he handled that which was really impactful to me. Anybody who goes through that you’re excused a little bit if you have a poor-me attitude. Jim just didn’t let that be a thing.”
Marsh, a 6-foot-7 forward, played at USC before being taken in the 1968 NBA draft where he was selected in the 11th round by the Sonics.
However, he played his entire career (39 games during the 1971-72 season) with the Portland Trail Blazers.
After his pro career, he was an assistant for the Utah men’s basketball teams that won WAC championships during the 1976-77 and 1980-81 seasons.
Marsh spent 12 years serving as a color analyst with the Sonics.
Marsh’s greatest impact came later when he led the imminently successful Friends of Hoop AAU team while serving as a coach and mentor to future NBA stars including Spencer Hawes, Jamal Crawford, Jon Brockman, Martell Webster, Nate Robinson and Isaiah Thomas.
Marsh, who hosted an annual 3-on-3 basketball tournament to raise awareness of Parkinson’s disease, also served as the CEO of MENTOR Washington, an organization founded in 2004 that provides mentors to youths.
“I can’t imagine how many thousands of people are sad right now because of this news,” said former Times columnist Steve Kelley. “In a lot of ways he was my best friend. The weird thing about saying that is, he was so many people’s best friend from every possible walk of life. Not just sports, but politics, charitable work and business and nationwide. As much of a figure as he was in Seattle sports, he was beloved across the country.
“Maybe the most selfless person I’ve ever met. He would do anything for anybody. … He had the biggest heart of anybody I’ve ever met.”