Albany declines to renew Richardson's contract

4/4/2007 - NBA

ALBANY, N.Y. -- The Albany Patroons didn't renew Micheal Ray
Richardson's coaching contract Wednesday following his suspension
for alleged anti-gay and anti-Semitic remarks.

"Now he's labeled the rest of his life as anti-Semitic, and he's not. He's got two kids who are being raised Jewish. He's got an ex-wife he has a good relationship with who is Jewish."
-- John Aretakis, lawyer for Micheal Ray Richardson

The former NBA player was suspended for the team's last two
Continental Basketball Association playoff games on March 28, a day
after he told the Times Union of Albany that he had "big-time Jew
lawyers'' working for him. The coach yelled at hecklers during the
first playoff game, using a profanity and gay slur.

"We had spoken prior to all this hoopla. He had been
negotiating with other teams," Patroons general manager James
Coyne said Wednesday. "We pretty much agreed earlier on he
wouldn't be coming back to the CBA."

However, Richardson's lawyer said the suspension has put his
client's entire career in jeopardy, including other coaching

"Now all the sudden he gets his contract canceled," attorney
John Aretakis said.

Richardson had been expected to coach for Coyne in the upcoming
U.S. Basketball League season that starts in a few weeks, and
that's not happening either, he said.

"Now he's labeled the rest of his life as anti-Semitic, and
he's not," Aretakis said. "He's got two kids who are being raised
Jewish. He's got an ex-wife he has a good relationship with who is

Richardson made the comments in a newspaper interview last week.

"I've got big-time lawyers. I've got big-time Jew lawyers,"
Richardson was quoted as saying.

"They got a lot of power in this world, you know what I mean?
Which I think is great," Richardson told the Albany Times Union.

"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 [people]. It's not a knock, but they are some
crafty people."

The team issued an apology, with Patroons owner and CBA chairman
Ben Fernandez saying the league will not tolerate bigots.

Richardson said he apologized to the hecklers after the game and
to anyone who was offended by his other quoted remarks.

"I am not anti-Semitic," he said. "I was giving compliments.
It's like saying the NBA is 85 percent black."

Aretakis drafted a lawsuit he said he'll file Friday in state
Supreme Court in Manhattan against the Hearst Corp. and Times Union
sports columnist Brian Ettkin, claiming defamation and slander. He
said Richardson's epithet to the hecklers, while a poor choice of
words, is commonly used by many men who, like Richardson, are not

Times Union managing editor Mary Fran Gleason declined to

Richardson was the fourth overall pick in the 1978 draft. He
joined the NBA out of Montana and played eight seasons with the New
York Knicks, Golden State Warriors and New Jersey Nets.

His NBA career ended because of drug use in 1986, when
commissioner David Stern banned Richardson for life after he
violated the league's drug policy three times. He said Wednesday he
talked with Stern and things are all right with the off-season work
he does for the NBA as a community ambassador and for the Knicks.

Richardson began his comeback in 1988, joining the ranks of
ex-NBA players in European leagues. 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.