Former NBA All-Star Micheal Ray Richardson appeared to be getting his life back on track after his league suspension in 1986 for drug use. He was coaching in the Continental Basketball Association and had led his team, the Albany Patroons, to the playoffs. But as they say: What goes up, must come down.
The Patroons have suspended Richardson for the rest of the CBA championship series for comments made to the Albany Times Union on Tuesday.
Before Tuesdays game against the Yakima Sun Kings, Richardson made anti-Semitic comments to two reporters in his office when discussing the contract general manager Jim Coyne had offered him Monday to coach his team in the CBA and USBL.
"I've got big-time lawyers," Richardson said, according to the Times Union. "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."
And he continued, "They got a lot of power in this world, you know what I mean?" he said. "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. It's not a knock, but they are some crafty people."
And the offensive remarks didn't stop there.
According to the Times Union, Richardson told a fan who heckled him early in Tuesday's game, "Shut the [expletive] up." And near game's end, he shouted at another heckler, "Shut the [expletive] up, you [derogatory term for gay men],"
Assistant Derrick Rowland will coach the Patroons for the reminder of the series. Richardson will not be allowed into the Washington Avenue Armory during practices or games.
"It's terrible and I don't think it's fair," Richardson told the Times Union regarding the suspension. "But I want to make an apology if I offended anyone because that's not me."
The Patroons released a statement apologizing for the coach's remarks.
"The Albany Patroons' organization sincerely apologizes to any individuals or ethnic groups that these alleged statements may have offended," the statement read.
The release also stated that the team and league "shall conduct a full and complete investigation as to the validity of these allegations. If these allegations are true, appropriate action will take place immediately."
Richardson, the fourth overall pick in the 1978 draft, is best known for an embattled NBA career that ended because of drugs. He joined the NBA out of Montana and played eight seasons with the New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors and New Jersey Nets. He was the subject of a 2000 film "What Happened to Micheal Ray?" documenting his troubled life.
In his second year, Richardson became only the second player in NBA to lead in both assists and steals. In 1986, the four-time NBA All-Star was banned for life after he violated the league's drug policy three times in what David Stern called "the hardest thing I've ever had to do as commissioner."
Richardson began his comeback in 1988, joining the ranks of ex-NBA players in European leagues where he played for 14 years. His right to play in the NBA was restored that year but he stayed in Italy, where he was a leading scorer and fan favorite.
Richardson failed two cocaine tests in 1991, though he disputed
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.