Michael Ray Richardson Rumors
Richardson says Otis Birdsong, the vastly underrated Nets guard, was the best teammate he ever had. Reflecting on his life, Richardson says Stern is, and always will be, a special person to him. “He’s not only the NBA commissioner (to me), he’s a man,” Richardson says. “He has feelings. He has a heart. I know what happened to me, but he didn’t really have a choice. But I respect that and I dealt with it because I put myself in that predicament. So I had to get myself out. I have a lot of respect for what he’s done for me.”
That day 15 years ago Richardson had something he wanted to say to NBA commissioner David Stern, who was in Paris to see the Michael Jordan-led Bulls. Richardson had been sober at the time since the late 1980s, and that has continued to this day. “I sat next to him and I told him that he saved my life,” Richardson, who eventually was reinstated but never did play again in the NBA, said Thursday in a phone interview with FOX Sports Florida. “His eyes just lit up. Here was the guy that had ended my career, but I did not hold any grudges. Ever since then, we’ve had a relationship.”
After Stern took over as commissioner in 1984, other players permanently banned over the next decade included John Drew, Roy Tarpley and Richard Dumas. Players barred but later reinstated included Lewis Lloyd, Mitchell Wiggins, Duane Washington and Stanley Roberts. Years later, when the drug program was different, Chris Andersen was banned in 2006 and reinstated in 2008. Players always have been able to apply for reinstatement after two years, when they would need to prove having been rehabilitated. Washburn was unsuccessful in his attempt to be reinstated, while Richardson said he opted to remain overseas after he had been reinstated in 1988. “It’s a great story,” Washburn said of the relationship Richardson eventually developed with Stern. “I understand what Micheal Ray did (with drug use). I walked the same road as him.”
“I haven’t enjoyed the responsibility to end careers, which I haven’t had to do recently with respect to drug use and the like many years ago,” Stern said after having been asked the low point of tenure as commissioner. “One of my preseason phone calls each year, this year was from Micheal Ray. He’s up coaching again in Ontario, Canada. (Suspending players for life) wasn’t a really great situation for me personally.” But Richardson said Stern should not fret. He said Stern was just doing his job with him, and he was the one who messed up. “I think that goes to show what a compassionate guy he is,” Richardson, 57, said from Canada in response to what Stern had said. “But he had to do it, and I took full responsibility for it. He saved my life because he opened my eyes and he got me back on the right track.”
Ken Berger: Micheal Ray Richardson hired as coach of the Chang Thailand Slammers. Result of new initiative by National Basketball Retired Players Assn.
“I am trying to get to the next level,” he explains, still looking fit as he mingles with his players during a down time on their trek through the Port City. “I am trying to get on an NBA bench or go overseas. I like working in the minor leagues because it gives you a chance to try and help these guys fulfil their dream.”
In the prime of his career, after 556 regular season games, 18 playoff contests and four all-star appearances, his NBA tenure was over. “The lowest of the low was when I left the NBA,” (Michael Ray) Richardson said, now in the midst of rejuvenating his NBA dream, only this time as a coach. “I don’t look at it as a low. I look at it as a learning experience for me. “The past is the past but you have to learn from it. Things in life happen for a reason – if it is good or bad. It has made me a better person, a better man.”