Micheal Ray Richardson
|Point guard / Shooting guard|
April 11, 1955 |
|Listed height||6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)|
|Listed weight||189 lb (86 kg)|
|High school||Manual (Denver, Colorado)|
|NBA draft||1978 / Round: 1 / Pick: 4th overall|
|Selected by the New York Knicks|
|Pro playing career||1978–2002|
|1978–1982||New York Knicks|
|1982||Golden State Warriors|
|1982-1986||New Jersey Nets|
|1986–1987||Long Island Knights (AAU)|
|1987–1988||Albany Patroons (CBA)|
|1988–1991||Knorr Bologna (Italy)|
|1991–1992||KK Split (Croatia)|
|1992–1994||Baker Livorno (Italy)|
|1994–1997||Olympique Antibes (France)|
|1997–1998||Cholet Basket (France)|
|1998–1999||C. Montana Forlì (Italy)|
|1999–2000||Basket Livorno (Italy)|
|2001||Olympique Antibes (France)|
|2002||AC Golfe-Juan-Vallauris (France)|
|2004–2007||Albany Patroons (CBA)|
|2007–2011||Oklahoma / Lawton-Fort Sill Cavalry (CBA / PBL)|
|2011-present||London Lightning (NBL Canada)|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NBA statistics|
|Points||8,253 (14.8 ppg)|
|Assists||3,899 (7.0 apg)|
|Steals||1,463 (2.6 spg)|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Micheal "Sugar" Ray Richardson (born April 11, 1955) is an American former professional basketball player and currently the head coach of the London Lightning of the National Basketball League of Canada. Richardson played college basketball for the Montana Grizzlies. He played in the NBA for eight years, most notably for the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets.
Richardson was born in Lubbock, Texas. The New York Knicks drafted him with the fourth pick overall in the 1978 NBA Draft, and he was billed as "the next Walt Frazier." Two picks later, the Boston Celtics drafted Larry Bird. In his second year, Richardson became the first player in NBA history to lead the league in both assists (10.1) and steals (3.2), setting Knicks franchise records in both categories.
At the beginning of the 1982-83 season, he was sent to the Golden State Warriors as compensation for the New York Knicks signing Bernard King as a free agent. After playing only 33 games for the Warriors, Richardson was traded to the New Jersey Nets. He would be named an all-star as a Net, playing on the Eastern Conference all-star team that allegedly froze out Michael Jordan. In the 1984 playoffs, Richardson led the Nets to a shocking upset of the defending champion Philadelphia 76ers. In the fifth and deciding game, he scored 24 points and had six steals. While the Knicks showed mild improvement after trading Richardson, that improvement was short-lived, ending when King was felled by a devastating knee injury midway through the 1984-85 season.
In 1986, NBA commissioner David Stern banned Richardson for life after Richardson violated the league's drug policy three times. Richardson's right to play in the NBA was restored in 1988, but he failed two cocaine tests in 1991, though he disputed the results.
He bitterly complained that the suspensions he received from the NBA were unfair given the fact that Chris Mullin was never disciplined by the league for his well-documented alcohol problem, implying that this "double standard" existed because Richardson is African-American while Mullin is white, and became a frequently cited example of destructive lifestyles in the NBA. He was the subject of the 2000 film Whatever Happened to Micheal Ray?, a look at his troubled life. It was narrated by Chris Rock.
CBA & Europe career
Richardson went on to play a few seasons in the Continental Basketball Association and United States Basketball League as well as 14 seasons in Europe. There, he signed with Virtus Bologna, a prominent European team, in 1988 and remained 3 seasons. With the Virtus Bologna he won the Cup Winners' Cup in 1990. In Italy, he stayed 2 seasons (1992–1993 and following) in Baker Livorno and 1 (1998–1999) in Montana Forlì. He also won the French championship with Olympique Antibes in 1995.
Coaching in the CBA
On December 14, 2004, he was named head coach of the Albany Patroons in the Continental Basketball Association. This is Richardson's second stint with the Patroons; he played for the team during the 1987-88 season, in which Albany won its second CBA championship.
On March 28, 2007, he was suspended for the rest of the CBA championship series for his comments in an interview with the Albany Times Union newspaper, in which he stated that Jews were "crafty (because) they are hated worldwide."
Specifically, it was reported by the Times Union that before a game against the Yakama Sun Kings, Richardson made anti-Semitic comments to two reporters in his office when discussing the contract general manager Jim Coyne had offered him to coach his team in the CBA and USBL. "I've got big-time lawyers," Richardson said. "I've got big-time Jew lawyers."
When told by the reporters that the comment could be offensive to people because it plays to the stereotype that Jews are crafty and shrewd, he responded with:
"Are you kidding me? They are. They've got the best security system in the world. Have you ever been to an airport in Tel Aviv? They're real crafty. Listen, they are hated all over the world, so they've got to be crafty. They got a lot of power in this world, you know what I mean? Which I think is great. I don't think there's nothing wrong with it. If you look in most professional sports, they're run by Jewish people. If you look at a lot of most successful corporations and stuff, more businesses, they're run by Jewish [sic]. It's not a knock, but they are some crafty people."
The paper also reported that he fired expletives at a heckler, using profanity and an anti-gay slur, at Game 1 of the championship series.
Patroons owner Ben Fernandez denounced Richardson's comments. During his suspension, the league is investigating the allegations against Richardson. "We will not tolerate - and the league will not tolerate - bigots," Fernandez said. Richardson will not be allowed to watch the team practice or be present at any of the games.
Some sportswriters have come to Richardson's defense, in the wake of the incident. Peter Vecsey questioned the Times Union's motives in not releasing the audio recording of their exchange with Richardson. Vecsey noted that during the course of his professional dealings with Richardson, he found the player to be "so unsettled, so unsophisticated and so pliable anybody could draw him into saying anything about anything at any time". He also pointed out that Richardson's second wife was Jewish, as was their daughter, Tamara, something that would be unlikely for a true anti-Semite. Christopher Isenberg, a Jewish writer who had earlier profiled Richardson for the Village Voice also defended Richardson's remarks about Jews, stating in a blog post entitled "Jews for Micheal Ray",
"Micheal Ray is proud to have a Jewish lawyer because he thinks they are the best lawyers. Certainly it’s a stereotype, but it’s a stereotype rooted in a reality. A disproportionate number of the great lawyers in America are Jews. A disproportionate number of the great basketball players in America are black. We have learned to be very careful around these facts because here the line between fact and "stereotype" can get very blurry and if you're not careful, you can get into deep water real quick. Micheal Ray was unwise to have been so indiscreet around reporters, but it wasn't exactly Elders of Zion territory."
NBA commissioner David Stern also voiced support for Richardson. While conceding that the remarks about homosexuals were "inappropriate and insensitive" and worthy of a suspension, Stern also said, "I have no doubt that Micheal Ray is not anti-Semitic. I know that he's not...He may have exercised very poor judgment, but that does not reflect Micheal Ray Richardson's feelings about Jews."
Zev Chafets, author of A Match Made in Heaven: American Jews, Christian Zionists and One Man's Exploration of the Weird and Wonderful Judeo-Evangelical Alliance, wrote in the Los Angeles Times that Richardson's comments, while perhaps stereotypical, were not anti-semitic. After discussing Richardson's claim that Jews are "crafty," Chafets stated,
What other hurtful things did Richardson supposedly say? That Israel has the best airport security in the world? This is both true and something Israel itself brags about. That Jews are hated and need to protect themselves? That's the founding premise of the Anti-Defamation League itself.... Richardson, who was a popular player in Israel during his NBA exile years, is guilty of nothing more than free speech. Even if his observations were wrong — which they are not — there's nothing at all insulting about them. What is insulting is the notion that you can't speak honestly about Jews without getting into trouble.
On December 16, 2007 he was fired by the Cavalry.
Lawton-Fort Sill Cavalry
Richardson later coached for Lawton-Ft Sill Cavalry located in Lawton, Oklahoma, and he led his team to victory to the CBA Finals in 2008 and 2009 and in the PBL Finals in 2010.
Richardson was ejected from the first game of the 2010 Premiere Basketball League Championship Series. The game took place at the Blue Cross Arena on April 22, 2010, in Rochester NY. Richardson had been given several warnings and a technical foul for berating and arguing with referees in the game against two-time PBL Champion Rochester RazorSharks. The ejection took place with under 3 seconds remaining in the game that was eventually won by Rochester in overtime by a tally of 110-106. The ejection led to a skirmish between fans and several Lawton-Fort Sill players which ended the game with 2.6 seconds to go on the clock and Rochester about to go to the free throw line.
On August 17, 2011, Richardson was announced as the first head coach of the National Basketball League of Canada's London Lightning. Finding immediate success with the Lightning, Richardson was named the NBL Canada's first ever Coach of the Month for November 2011, an award he would win again in January 2012. The Lightning would go on to finish the regular season at 28-8 and gain home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
On March 25, Richardson led the Lightning to a 116-92 victory over the Halifax Rainmen in a deciding Game Five of the NBL Canada Finals to win the NBL Canada's inaugural championship. After the game, Richardson was named the NBL Canada Coach of the Year for 2011-12.
On April 12, 2013, Richardson led the Lightning to a 87-80 victory over the Summerside Storm in PEI. The Lightning became back to back NBL champions.
NBL coaching record
|Team||Year||Regular season||Post season|
|Games||Won||Lost||Win %||Finish||PG||PW||PL||Win %||Result|
|LDN||2011-12||36||28||8||.778||1st in Conference||7||5||2||.714||Won NBL championship|
|LDN||2012-13||40||33||7||.825||1st in Conference||8||6||2||.750||Won NBL championship|
- List of National Basketball Association career steals leaders
- List of National Basketball Association players with 9 or more steals in a game
- CBA coach Richardson suspended for remarks, March 28, 2007
- Time for this coach to sit out, March 28, 2007
- Vecsey, Peter. "Why All the Heat on Richardson?", the New York Post, published March 30, 2007, accessed April 2, 2007.
- Isenberg, Christopher. "Sugar Ray Richardson's Ship Be Stayin' Afloat in His New Life in Italy", the Village Voice, published February 9, 2000, accessed April 2, 2007.
- Isenberg, Christopher. "Jews for Micheal Ray", nomas-nyc.com, published March 29, 2007, accessed April 2, 2007.
- Stein, Marc. "Stern: Sugar not Anti-Semitic, ESPN.com, published March 30, 2007, accessed April 3, 2007.
- Chafets, Zev. "He isn't an anti-Semite. He's right." Los Angeles Times. 3 April 2007. 
- Latzke, Jeff. "Richardson to coach Oklahoma City in CBA." Houston Chronicle. 24 May 2007. 
- Latzke, Jeff. "CAVALRY MAKE HEAD COACHING CHANGE" league press release. 16 December 2007.
- "Sports | Democrat and Chronicle". democratandchronicle.com. 2010-04-23. Retrieved 2013-10-16.
- nurun.com (2011-08-18). "Coach knows highs, lows | The London Free Press". Lfpress.com. Retrieved 2013-10-16.
- "NBL Canada Coach Of The Month". National Basketball League of Canada. Retrieved March 25, 2012.
- "London Lightning Named First NBL Canada Champions". National Basketball League of Canada. March 25, 2012. Retrieved March 25, 2012.
- Matisz, John. "London Lightning capture second straight NBL title | Metro". Metronews.ca. Retrieved 2013-10-16.
- London Lightning Bio
- ESPN article about Micheal Ray Richardson
- NBA career stats
- Patroons announcement
- More NBA career stats
- Times Union Editorial
- "Ex-NBA star suspended for anti-Semitic slurs; Richardson not allowed to coach in CBA championship series," 3/28/07
- ADL Praises Albany Patroons For Suspending Former NBA All-Star For Anti-Semitic Remarks -- press release from the Anti-Defamation League
- Richardson talks about the death of troubled NBA-player Eddie Griffin