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YouTube Gold: Micheal Ray Richardson

A great talent lost to the NBA because of cocaine

New York Knicks v Los Angeles Lakers
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 21: Guard Micheal Ray Richardson #20 of the New York Knicks shoots the basketball as guard Ray Williams #13 looks on during a National Basketball Association game against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Forum on January 21, 1980 in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers defeated the Knicks 132-114.
Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

In the 1970’s and ‘80’s, cocaine nearly blew the NBA apart, no pun intended. Stars like David Thompson, John Drew, John Lucas and others simply couldn’t resist the drug after they developed a taste for it.

The NBA eventually developed a policy to deal with drug use but for a while, guys would use freely and only do rehab when required.

One of the most promising players of that era was Micheal Ray Richardson. A 6-5 guard out of the University of Montana, Richardson was the #4 pick in the 1978 draft.

He got off to a solid start in the league, playing for the New York Knicks. He was then traded to the Golden State Warriors and also played for the (then) New Jersey Nets.

By the time he got to the Nets, the NBA’s three strike policy was in effect and Richardson was banned for life.

Or until 1988, as it turned out, when he was reinstated. He had no desire to return however and spent the rest of his career overseas.

But he was a real talent and it was too bad things turned out the way that they did.