January 21, 1949 |
Union, South Carolina
|Listed height||6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)|
|Listed weight||230 lb (104 kg)|
|High school||Sims (Union, South Carolina)|
|NBA draft||1971 / Round: 3 / Pick: 40th overall|
|Selected by the Chicago Bulls|
|Position||Center / Power forward|
|1974–1981||Golden State Warriors|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Points||5,821 (7.4 ppg)|
|Rebounds||6,953 (8.9 rpg)|
|Assists||1,728 (2.2 apg)|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Clifford Ray (born January 21, 1949) is an American basketball coach and former professional basketball player. A 6–9 center, he played three of his ten seasons in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls (1971–74) and the other seven with the Golden State Warriors (1974–81).
Ray played his college basketball at the University of Oklahoma, graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (he can play most woodwind instruments). Selected in the third round of the 1971 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls, Ray was, from the start, a very effective defender and rebounder. Ray was named to the 1972 NBA All-Rookie Team, and led the NBA in rebounds per minute played in each of his first two seasons. He spent three seasons with the Bulls, his best being 1973–74 during which Ray averaged 9.3 points and 12.2 rebounds per game, and the Bulls reached the NBA Western Conference Finals for the first time.
Ray and $100,000 were sent to the Golden State Warriors for Nate Thurmond in an exchange of centers just prior to the 1974–75 season on September 3, 1974. The trade resulted in the Warriors receiving a quality ballplayer who was eight years younger than Thurmond and additional fiscal stability. In 1975 the Warriors, led by Rick Barry and coached by Al Attles, won the NBA championship. Ray led the team in rebounding and anchored the defense, finishing second in minutes played per game, after Barry. The Warriors defeated Ray's former team, the Chicago Bulls, in the Western Conference finals before sweeping the Washington Bullets in the NBA Finals.
Ray is one of a handful of players to have played at least ten seasons in the pros and to have recorded more rebounds (6953 over 784 games for an 8.9 average) than points (5821, for a 7.4 average) for his career.
After his playing career, Ray worked as an assistant coach with the Dallas Mavericks in 1987. He also coached in the Continental Basketball Association, where he landed his first head coaching job with the Fort Wayne Fury, replacing former teammate Rick Barry as head coach at the end of the season. Later, he worked as a New Jersey Nets assistant before returning to Golden State as an assistant coach. He also worked as an assistant coach with the Orlando Magic and from 2005–2010 was an assistant coach for the Boston Celtics, who won an NBA championship in 2008. He was hired by the Sacramento Kings in 2012.
In 1978, Ray was in the news for an entirely different reason: he helped save a dolphin's life. At Marine World (then located in Redwood City, California and now in Vallejo, California), during maintenance in the tank of a bottlenose dolphin named "Mr. Spock", the dolphin swallowed a bolt with a protruding sharp screw. The veterinarian was unwilling to perform a risky operation while the screw was still in the dolphin's first stomach, just inches beyond his reach. His frustrated suggestion that he needed longer arms led Marine World President Mike Demetrios, a big basketball fan, to ask local star Ray (whose arms are 3 feet 9 inches, or 114 centimeters, long) if he could help. With gloves, lubrication, and guidance, he was able to reach down Spock's throat and retrieve the screw before it could cause more damage.
- "Chicago Acquires Nate Thurmond; For Clifford Ray and Cash," The Associated Press, Wednesday, September 4, 1974.
- "1974-75 Golden State Warriors Roster and Stats". basketball-reference.com. Archived from the original on 2013-04-11. Retrieved 2013-04-11.
- Tom Ziller (March 8, 2012). "Kings Hire Clifford Ray To Work With Big Men". Sactown Royalty. Archived from the original on 2012-03-09. Retrieved 2013-04-11.
- Mike Malone tells assistant Kings coaches they will not be retained
- Shira Springer (May 24, 2006). "Ray jumps into job: Assistant will keep big men on toes". Boston Globe. Archived from the original on 2006-06-14. Retrieved 2013-04-11.
- Peter Hartlaub (August 10, 2011). "Did Clifford Ray really save a dolphin's life?". SFGate. Archived from the original on 2013-04-11. Retrieved 2013-04-11.
- TreeHugger (April 10, 2013). "Former NBA Player Recalls the Time He Saved a Dolphin by Reaching his Arm Down its Throat". care2.com. Archived from the original on 2013-04-11. Retrieved 2013-04-11.