#23. Micheal Ray Richardson

Best Season: 79-80- 15.1 PPG, 10.1 APG, 3.2 SPG, .472 FG%- League leader in Assists and Steals

Micheal Ray Richardson was drafted by the Knicks out of Montana with the 4th overall pick in the 1978 Draft. The Knicks traded Phil Jackson and a 1st round pick in order to move up in the draft to take him.

Micheal Ray Richardson is another Knick who is somewhat underrated because he played in the late 70s/early 80s. The team was not particularly good, only having one winning season in his four years. He also had the unfair expectations of being the “next Clyde Frazier”. Even worse for him was Larry Bird was drafted two picks after him. His career with the Knicks was short, and never became the “next Clyde Frazier”, but still was impressive. When you analyze the numbers, some can argue that he could be higher on the list.

Richardson was considered by many to be one of the best defensive players in the league, and was 1st team all-defense two straight seasons. Additionally, he had 3 straight seasons averaging over 15 ppg and 7 assists, making the all-star team three straight years. In the 1979-80 season, he became the first player in NBA history to lead the league in APG and SPG. Additionally, he is second all-time in Knicks history with 18 triple doubles. What hurts his spot on the all-time Knick list is he only played with the Knicks for four years. His career in general was short, only playing 8 seasons due to serious drug issues causing him to get banned from the league.

Richardson’s Knick career ended because the Knicks found someone better to replace him. That person would happen to be Bernard King. The Knicks signed King as a free agent and were forced to give up Richardson and a 5th round pick to Golden State. King went on to have some brilliant moments as a Knick, but that was also short lived due to a devastating knee injury.

Since his playing career ended, Richardson is most remembered for his infamous comment “I’ve got big time Jew lawyers”. This was in response to his contract. He thought he was complementing Jews with this statement. Richardson has had a crazy life and even crazier comments. He essentially called David Stern a racist because he was thrown out of the NBA for drug use, but Chris Mullen was not for alcohol use. I guess he did not realize drugs are illegal, whereas alcohol is not.

For those who watched the Knicks this year, they might have noticed Richardson was back at the Garden for the first time in a long time. It seems like the drug problems are behind him and his life is back on track. He is currently coaching in the Canadian basketball league. I don’t think he is Jew bashing anymore either.

By Rob Bonanni


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