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Ball Don't Lie

Knicks owner James Dolan is footing the bill for the health care of former Knick Ray Williams

Kelly Dwyer
Ball Don't Lie

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Ray Williams, in 1980 (Getty Images)

Three years ago, we relayed a story about 10-year NBA veteran Ray Williams, who had fallen prey to a series of financial blows and was then destitute while living in Florida. Things turned up for Williams later in the year, he was given a job in his hometown of Mt. Vernon, New York, but recently Williams has been in ill-health.

The New York Knicks – the team that drafted him, and the franchise he was starred for – have stepped to the plate. Owner James Dolan, rightfully reviled in many areas as he runs MSG’s many tentacles, is making sure the former Knicks has all the care he needs as he deals with an unspecified illness. From Frank Isola at the New York Daily News:

The ailing former Knicks guard, who has fallen on hard times, was transported by the Knicks last week from Florida to New York to receive treatment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering in Manhattan for an undisclosed illness. Madison Square Garden Chairman James Dolan paid for the medical plane that allowed Williams, 58, to receive world-class care and to be near his mother.

[…]

As the Daily News first reported in 2011, doctors affiliated with a New Jersey medical group that offers health care to indigent athletes discovered a large tumor in Williams’ colon following a routine colonoscopy.

Williams was the first NBA retiree to take advantage of a free colon-cancer screening offered through the NBA Retired Players Association and Pain Alternatives, Solutions and Treatment.

Williams last played in the NBA in 1987. He enjoyed two stints with the Knicks, averaging over 20 points and six assists from 1978 to 1982, and finished his career with averages of 15.5 points, 5.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game in just 28 minutes a contest.

The former point guard, who claims that neither drugs nor alcohol had any influence on his spate of bad financial luck, shuttled between New York and Florida following his retirement, and for years lived in his pickup truck as he moved between odd jobs.

Dolan, as owner with the Knicks, has always been generous with his money. Still, the MSG chairman has received quite a bit of criticism over the years for his obsession with Basketball Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas, entrusting the former Knicks coach and GM with a series of disastrous personnel moves, while creating an executive atmosphere that led to one noted sexual harassment suit from a former employee. Most recently, Dolan has taken flack for possibly letting personal politics get in the way of matching a contract offer for guard Jeremy Lin. He is possibly the most reviled owner in New York’s history, and that’s saying something considering the Mets’ foibles, and the eras when CBS owned the New York Yankees and Gulf and Western owned the Knicks.

He’s making the right move here, though. Taking care of a player his ownership regime wasn’t tied to, someone who gets the short shrift when Knick teams of the early 1980s are discussed – in favor of Sugar Ray Richardson, Bill Cartwright, and Bernard King.

As Frank Isola noted in his report, the “Once a Knick, Always a Knick” motto stitched into each Knick jersey seems to be taking precedent here.

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