Larry Bird once called him the best player on the planet. Magic Johnson compared him to himself. Isiah Thomas said he was the one player he was “scared of.” But you probably don’t know anything about Sugar.
In 1985, Micheal “Sugar” Ray Richardson almost joined that rare list of players with a quadruple-double after he racked up 38 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists and 9 steals in a single game. Unfortunately for Richardson, he has more “almost” and “should of/would of/could of” statements about him than almost any other player in NBA history.
Less than a year after this great performance, David Stern gave him a lifetime ban from the NBA for violating the NBA drug policy…a third time. Richardson — the 4th pick in the 1978 draft, four-time NBA All-Star and the third player to ever lead the league in assists and steals — then went on a long worldwide basketball journey, playing everywhere from Italy to France to Croatia.
For the past few years, he’s found success as a coach, winning the PBL Coach of the Year award in 2010 and the NBL Canada Coach of the Year award in 2012 and 2013.
As good as it is to see Richardson healthy and finding success in basketball, it still bothers me he never reached his full potential as a player in the NBA and that most current fans have no idea who he is and what he was capable of. Here are a few stat lines from the man I consider the biggest — even bigger than Hakeem The Dream — quadruple-double threat in NBA history.
- 1985: 38 points, 11 assists, 11 rebounds, 9 steals
- 1984: 10 points, 11 assists, 5 rebounds, 9 steals
- 1985: 20 points, 8 assists, 8 rebounds, 8 steals
- 1984: 14 points, 10 assists, 5 rebounds, 8 steals
- 1984: 13 points, 14 assists, 2 rebounds, 8 steals
- 1983: 14 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds, 8 steals
- 1985: 27 points, 14 assists, 8 rebounds, 7 steals
- 1982: 15 points, 12 assists, 12 rebounds, 7 steals
- 1982: 28 points, 9 assists, 9 rebounds, 7 steals