For Micheal Ray Richardson, all it took was an interview from the Times Union five years ago…

Five years ago, Micheal Ray Richardson was the head coach of the Albany Patroons.  He had taken the Patroons to their first Continental Basketball Association finals in nearly twenty years; the last time Albany went to the CBA finals, Richardson was actually a player for the Patroons and helped Bill Musselman win his fourth consecutive coaching championship.

Then cam an ill-fated interview with the Times Union, in which Richardson was reported as making statements that would be considered insensitive.  The statements caused Richardson to be suspended for the remainder of the CBA finals – and, eventually, cost Micheal Ray Richardson his coaching position with the Patroons.

So what happened to Micheal Ray Richardson?

He signed with another CBA team, the Oklahoma Cavalry, and took the Cavs to victory in the 2008 CBA finals.

The Cavs changed their name to the Lawton-Fort Sill Cavalry one year later.  New name, same results.  With Richardson guiding the team, the Cavs won another CBA championship, defeating the Albany Patroons for the 2009 title.

The Cavs would later move to another league, joining the Premier Basketball League after the CBA went in the tank.  New league, same results.  The Cavs won a PBL championship, and Micheal Ray Richardson earned his third consecutive coaching ring.

When the Cavs folded after the 2011 season, Richardson and most of his team joined the National Basketball League of Canada, coaching the London (Ont.) Lightning.  New team – say results.  With London’s 116-92 victory over the Halifax Rainmen, the Lightning have earned the first NBL championship, and Micheal Ray Richardson has won his fourth coaching championship in five seasons, and his fourth championship in a run that spans through three different minor league hoops circuits.  The last minor league coach with four championships in such a short time?  Bill Musselman, who when he won the 1988 championship with Albany, earned his fourth consecutive coaching title.

Had it not been for that interview – and Richardson’s subsequent exit from Albany – how different would his future be?  We will never know.  However, what we do know is that another alum from the Albany Patroons – the greatest minor league pro sports team in Capital District history – has earned a championship.

Oh yeah, and former Albany Patroon forward Gabe Freeman, who played for the Pats in 2008-09 – he was named Playoff MVP for the Lightning.  And who knows what might happen in 20 years, when Gabe is coaching a basketball team somewhere.

Maybe in Albany.  Who knows?