Saturday, March 23, 2013

Ray Williams, Dead Just the Other Day

The Pride of Mount Vernon High School.  Brother of Gus Johnson.  Knick exemplar.  Nickname "Sugar."

I moved to New York around 1979 and, being a pragmatist, started watching Knicks games like it was religion or something.  I still rooted for the Bullets, but the Knicks were a cool team to watch.  Once the Bullets traded Phil Chenier, it didn't take long for me to dump Elvin Hayes and his Bickering Band of Renown and become a Knicks fan.

Earl Monroe still played for them, but he was no longer the main event.  The main event, my friends, was the backcourt of Michael Ray Richardson and Ray Williams.  They were, at the time, considered to be the best backcourt in the league.  Richardson was amazing in his own way.  One of those stick-thin, tall guards (think Kevin Durant).  Williams was built like a half-back (think LaDanian Tomlinson).  Or a middle-weight (think Marvelous Marvin Hagler).  Together it was something to see.

Things Fall Apart, as Chinua Achebe might say.  Did in fact.  Neither became quite the stars they might have been, but that's an old story, told over and over again.

For a couple of years, though, they were really something.

Rest in peace.

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