Ah, the NBA in the early 1980s, when the league was just beginning to be saved by Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. But all was not Celtic Pride and Showtime.
In 1981-82, the basketball mecca of New York had to endure a less-than-mediocre Knicks team. But what can you say about a squad that finished 16 games under .500 and out of the playoffs? You could say — as the team’s top player, Micheal Ray Richardson, did at the time — that “The ship be sinking.” Then again, there is what the New York Post has just written:
“Coked-up Knicks players fixed games as a favor to their drug dealer — who bet big bucks against the anemic New York squad, FBI informants claimed during the 1981-82 season.”
Those are the allegations from a new book by Brian Tuohy called “Larceny Games: Sports Gambling, Game Fixing and the FBI,” which cites FBI documents. Players’ names are redacted in the documents, but one obvious Knick of that era jumps out as a possibility — Richardson, who had a well-known drug problem that ended up cutting short his NBA career. But he denies any point-shaving was going on.
“Hell no!” Richardson, 58, told the Post. “We never did anything like that.”
Another member of the 1981-82 team, Alex Bradley, also said there was no such action.
The story goes that the dealer, already a regular gambler, was laying $10,000 per game on the shaved setups and winning big as the Knicks lost. But, ultimately, the FBI couldn’t prove anything, and though the investigation went on until 1986, the bureau dropped the whole thing, a spokeswoman told the Post.
But if you were giving 30 years for the next time that team would be in the news, you win the bet.