Ray Williams, pro basketball player, dies at 58


In this Oct. 25, 1977 photo, Ray Williams, right, and the Cleveland Cavaliers' Walt Frazier vie for the ball at New York's Madison Square Garden. Williams, a former Knicks guard, died March 22. He was 58. (AP)
March 23, 2013

Ray Williams, 58, a former NBA guard who played 10 seasons with the New York Knicks and other teams, died March 22. The team confirmed the death but did not provide other details. The New York Daily News reported that he had colon cancer.

The 6-foot-3 Mr. Williams averaged 15.5 points and 5.8 assists in his career. He had his finest season in 1979-80, when he scored 20.9 points per game for the Knicks and averaged 6.2 assists a game.

He also averaged 20.4 points a game with the New Jersey Nets in 1981-82.

Thomas Ray Williams was born in Mount Vernon, N.Y., on Oct. 14, 1954, and played college basketball at the University of Minnesota. His teammates at Minnesota included future NBA stars Kevin McHale and Mychal Thompson and former Washington Wizards coach Flip Saunders.

Mr. Williams was a first-round draft pick by the Knicks in 1977. He also played with the Nets, San Antonio Spurs, Boston Celtics, Kansas City Kings and Atlanta Hawks.

“Ray was probably my favorite college teammate,” McHale, now the coach of the Houston Rockets, said after his team’s victory over Cleveland on Friday night. “I came in as a rookie and Ray took me under his wing. We played ball all the time. We were two guys that just loved to play.