UNSUPPORTED BROWSER
Point Forward

Reports: FBI investigated 1980s Knicks players for alleged game-fixing, drug scandal

Knicks guard Micheal Ray Richardson (left) averaged a team-high 17.9 points per game in 1981-82.Knicks guard Micheal Ray Richardson (left) averaged a team-high 17.9 points per game in 1981-82. (Dick Raphael/Getty Images)

According to a new book, FBI documents reveal that multiple members of the Knicks during the 1980s were implicated in an alleged point-shaving and game-fixing scandal that involved a drug dealer.

Brian Tuohy's Larceny Games: Sports Gambling, Game Fixing and the FBI, released earlier this month by Feral House, references FBI files concerning the investigation and concludes that the bureau "seemed to possess very credible information that three members of the New York Knicks were shaving points as a favor to their cocaine supplier."

An FBI informant told the bureau, Tuohy writes, that the drug dealer increased the size of his wagering from $300 per game to $10,000 per game during March 1982 and that a vast majority of his bets during that time frame were successful. The unnamed dealer, identified as "one of the largest dealers on the East Coast," was allegedly receiving "inside player information not known to the general public" from unnamed members of the Knicks. At least once, the dealer was informed ahead of time that a player was not going to play in a particular game. Here's an excerpt from the FBI file reprinted by Tuohy.

"Source stated that to his knowledge, none of the players receive any money for the tip, but simply do it as a courtesy to their dealer. One such tip was the Knicks-Bullets game in New York about two (2) weeks ago. Another game was the Knicks versus San Antonio last Tuesday, which was good. The type of tips are not regarding point shaving but rather key players not playing. The latest tip was on the Knicks game on March 23, 1982 which was the only one that did not work out."

The Knicks lost to the Bullets 113-109 on Feb. 28, 1982 and lost to the Spurs 114-91 on Mar. 16, 1982.

What's more, as the 1981-82 season continued, Tuohy writes that the FBI informant alleged that members of the Knicks were actually betting against themselves. Here's another excerpt from the FBI files.

"Source further stated that at this point, he believes that the players must be betting against the Knicks to lose. ... Source observed heavy betting by [redacted] toward the latter part of the NY Knicks season, on the Knicks to lose certain games. In each case, the Knicks did lose, or failed to cover the point spread on the game."

Tuohy writes that despite this information and an FBI investigation that continued for years, charges never materialized because of a lack of physical evidence and confessions.

The New York Post reports that the FBI has confirmed the authenticity of the documents cited by Tuohy and that the Knicks declined comment.

The 1981-82 Knicks finished with a 33-49 record, going 4-14 to end the season while losing eight of their final nine games. The team's leading scorer, Micheal Ray Richardson, was banned for life in 1986 for violating the league's substance abuse policy after dealing with a cocaine addiction for a number of years. The New York Post reports that Richardson, a four-time NBA All-Star, denied any involvement in the alleged scandal.

“Hell no!” Richardson, 58 and living in Texas, told The Post when asked about the point-shaving allegations. “We never did anything like that.”
Portions of Larceny Games can be read online at Amazon.com.

More Point Forward

SI.com

Drag this icon to your bookmark bar.
Then delete your old SI.com bookmark.

SI.com

Click the share icon to bookmark us.