OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Micheal Ray Richardson, a former NBA player whose anti-Semitic comments to a newspaper last season drew a suspension from the CBA, was hired Thursday as the head coach of the Oklahoma City Cavalry.
Richardson coached the Albany Patroons to the Continental Basketball Association championship series but was suspended after Game 1, when the league began investigating a report that he told the Times Union of Albany he had ``big-time Jew lawyers'' working for him.
Richardson, 52, was cleared by the league earlier this month and allowed to return to coaching, but Albany had already decided not to renew his contract.
``It was totally blown out of proportion,'' Richardson said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. ``It's over. Life goes on, you know what I mean? It was totally, totally, totally false.''
Richardson said he has a lawsuit pending against the newspaper but is looking forward to a new start and another chance to win a championship.
``I really want to win it this year. I really, really want to win it,'' said Richardson, who was suspended for the final two games of the Yakama Sun Kings' three-game sweep. ``I was so close last year, but I really want to win it this year.''
Baron Hopgood, the owner of the newly formed Cavalry, said he considers Richardson cleared of any misconduct and views him as a proven CBA coach who understands the strategy needed to win in the league's system.
``I like those type of edgy individuals because they get the attention of the players and the media,'' Hopgood said.
The fourth overall pick in the 1978 NBA draft, Richardson was a four-time All-Star before he was banned in 1986 for violating the league's drug policy three times. He played eight seasons with the New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors and New Jersey Nets.
Richardson won a CBA championship as a player for Albany in 1988. He has also played in Europe and said he lives in southern France.
``The object of the game is to win. I want to win,'' Richardson said. ``Every quarter of every game I want to win.''
Hopgood said the Cavalry, who will play at Oklahoma City University's Abe Lemons Arena, intend to play in Oklahoma City until the city becomes home to an NBA franchise. The CBA has already given permission to the franchise to move to a location in Texas if that occurs.
``We're not here to try to compete with the NBA,'' Hopgood said. ``We're just here to keep the excitement, as a conduit until the league comes.''