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Former New York Knicks Guard Ray Williams Dies at Age 58

Ray Williams of the New York Knicks brings the ball up the court during a game against the Boston Celtics in Boston in 1984. Photographer: Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images
Ray Williams of the New York Knicks brings the ball up the court during a game against the Boston Celtics in Boston in 1984. Photographer: Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images

March 23 (Bloomberg) -- Former New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets guard Ray Williams died yesterday at the age of 58.

The Knicks confirmed Williams’s death on their website without providing details.

A first-round selection in the 1977 National Basketball Association draft by the Knicks from the University of Minnesota, Williams spent the initial four of his 10 seasons in New York. He also played for the Nets, the Kansas City Kings, the Boston Celtics, the Atlanta Hawks and the San Antonio Spurs before retiring after the 1986-87 season.

The 6-foot-3 Williams played in 655 NBA games, averaging 15.5 points and 5.8 assists per contest.

“Ray was probably my favorite college teammate,” Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale, who played with Williams at Minnesota and with the Celtics, said on the club’s website. “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.”

The New York Daily News reported on March 6 that Williams was being treated at New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for an undisclosed illness. The newspaper also said doctors found a large tumor in Williams’s colon after he became the first ex-player to take advantage of a free colon-cancer screening offered through the NBA Retired Players Association.

Williams was homeless and living in Florida in a 1992 Buick as recently as two years ago, the newspaper said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rob Gloster in San Francisco at rgloster@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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