NBA forgotten man and best player you’ve never heard of went on to be substitute schoolteacher after All-Star career

MICHEAL Ray Richardson has gone down in NBA history for all the wrong reasons.

In 1986, the NBA All-Star point guard became the first player to be kicked out of the league under its new anti-drugs program.

Micheal Ray Richardson was selected to four NBA All-Star teams

Micheal Ray Richardson was selected to four NBA All-Star teamsCredit: Getty

But he was banned for life for violating the league's drugs policy

But he was banned for life for violating the league’s drugs policyCredit: Getty

Richardson has since turned his life around as a coach and substitute teacher

Richardson has since turned his life around as a coach and substitute teacherCredit: Getty
Richardson famously said, “The ships be sinkin’,” referencing the struggling New York Knicks in 1981 to 1982.

But he easily could have been talking about his life.

The No. 4 pick in the 1978 Draft was one of the most promising players in the NBA in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The Knicks and Golden State Warriors star was selected to four All-Star teams, two All-Defensive First-Teams, and is the first and still the only player to lead the NBA in assists and steals in the same season.

Nicknamed Sugar, Richardson seemed destined for a Hall of Fame career.

But his career came crashing down when he was banned for life by the NBA after testing positive for cocaine for a third time.

“While my agent was trying to squeeze more money out of the Warriors,” Richardson recalled.

“I stayed in New York smoking my brains out, running the streets at night, hanging with all of the city’s sports heroes one night, then hanging out with the worst kind of street scum the next night.

“The worst part was that I was thinking everything was cool. I wasn’t an addict, I was just having myself a good time.

“When we finally got the deal done with Golden State, I went out there and sprained my ankle the first day I practiced.

“So now I was holed up and all strung out in a Holiday Inn. Women were bringing me drugs and food and I was totally f—ked up.

“This was the low point in my life so far.”

Now 68, Richardson credits the late former NBA commissioner David Stern for saving his life.

“I look back and I’m like, ‘What was I doing?’ It’s not me,” he told Grantland.

After leaving the NBA, Richardson continued his basketball career in Europe, playing in Italy, Croatia and France until he was 46.

He then went into coaching in the Continental Basketball Association, as well as in Canada.

Richardson even worked as a substitute teacher in the local school system in Lawton, Oklahoma.

The former NBA star is grateful for turning his life around but he often wonders what could have been.

”At least I had time to get myself together,” he told the New York Times.

”But sometimes I sit and think and wonder, ‘Where would I be if I never would have got involved in drugs?”’

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