Clifford Ray

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Clifford Ray
Clifford Ray 2017 in Florida.jpg
Ray in Florida 2017
Personal information
Born (1949-01-21) January 21, 1949 (age 69)
Union, South Carolina
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)
Listed weight 230 lb (104 kg)
Career information
High school Sims (Union, South Carolina)
College Oklahoma (1968–1971)
NBA draft 1971 / Round: 3 / Pick: 40th overall
Selected by the Chicago Bulls
Playing career 1971–1981
Position Center / Power forward
Number 14, 44
Career history
19711974 Chicago Bulls
19741981 Golden State Warriors
Career highlights and awards

As player:

As assistant coach:

Career statistics
Points 5,821 (7.4 ppg)
Rebounds 6,953 (8.9 rpg)
Assists 1,728 (2.2 apg)
Stats at

Clifford Ray (born January 21, 1949) is an American basketball coach and former professional basketball player. He played three of his ten seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) with the Chicago Bulls from 1971 to 1974, and the other seven with the Golden State Warriors from 1974 to 1981.


Ray played his college basketball at the University of Oklahoma, graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (he can play most woodwind instruments). Selected in the third round of the 1971 NBA draft by the Chicago Bulls, Ray was, from the start, a very effective defender and rebounder. Ray was named to the 1972 NBA All-Rookie Team, and led the NBA in rebounds per minute played in each of his first two seasons. He spent three seasons with the Bulls, his best being 1973–74 during which Ray averaged 9.3 points and 12.2 rebounds per game, and the Bulls reached the NBA Western Conference Finals for the first time.

Ray and $100,000 were sent to the Golden State Warriors for Nate Thurmond in an exchange of centers just prior to the 1974–75 season on September 3, 1974. The trade resulted in the Warriors receiving a quality ballplayer who was eight years younger than Thurmond and additional fiscal stability.[1] In 1975 the Warriors, led by Rick Barry and coached by Al Attles, won the NBA championship. Ray led the team in rebounding and anchored the defense, finishing second in minutes played per game, after Barry. The Warriors defeated Ray's former team, the Chicago Bulls, in the Western Conference finals before sweeping the Washington Bullets in the NBA Finals.[2]

Ray is one of a handful of players to have played at least ten seasons in the pros and to have recorded more rebounds (6953 over 784 games for an 8.9 average) than points (5821, for a 7.4 average) for his career.

After his playing career, Ray worked as an assistant coach with the Dallas Mavericks in 1987. He also coached in the Continental Basketball Association, where he landed his first head coaching job with the Fort Wayne Fury, replacing former teammate Rick Barry as head coach at the end of the season. Later, he worked as a New Jersey Nets assistant before returning to Golden State as an assistant coach. He also worked as an assistant coach with the Orlando Magic and from 2005 to 2010 was an assistant coach for the Boston Celtics, who won an NBA championship in 2008. He was hired by the Sacramento Kings in 2012.[3]

On June 5, 2013, new Kings coach Michael Malone announced that the 2012–13 assistant coaches would not be retained for the 2013–14 season.[4] In 2016, Coach Ray was hired by the Houston Rockets as a consultant.[5]

Dolphin rescue[edit]

In 1978, Ray made headlines for saving a dolphin's life at the Marine World/Africa USA amusement park in Redwood City, California. A bottlenose dolphin named "Mr. Spock" had swallowed a bolt with a protruding sharp screw while maintenance was being performed on its holding tank. The park veterinarian was unwilling to perform a risky operation to remove the bolt from the dolphin's first stomach where the object lay just beyond his reach. His remark that he needed longer arms led Marine World president and basketball fan Mike Demetrios to ask for Ray's assistance, as his arms measured at three feet nine inches (114 centimeters). With gloves, lubrication, and guidance, Ray successfully reached into the animal's throat and retrieved the object without causing any additional harm.[6][7][8]


  1. ^ "Chicago Acquires Nate Thurmond; For Clifford Ray and Cash" Associated Press, Wednesday, September 4, 1974
  2. ^ "1974–75 Golden State Warriors Roster and Stats". Archived from the original on 2013-04-11. Retrieved 2013-04-11. 
  3. ^ Tom Ziller (March 8, 2012). "Kings Hire Clifford Ray To Work With Big Men". Sactown Royalty. Archived from the original on 2012-03-09. Retrieved 2013-04-11. 
  4. ^ Mike Malone tells assistant Kings coaches they will not be retained
  5. ^ Jonathan Feigen (March 1, 2016). "Rockets hire former NBA center Clifford Ray as consultant". Archived from the original on December 23, 2016. 
  6. ^ Shira Springer (May 24, 2006). "Ray jumps into job: Assistant will keep big men on toes". Boston Globe. Archived from the original on 2006-06-14. Retrieved 2013-04-11. 
  7. ^ Peter Hartlaub (August 10, 2011). "Did Clifford Ray really save a dolphin's life?". SFGate. Archived from the original on 2013-04-11. Retrieved 2013-04-11. 
  8. ^ TreeHugger (April 10, 2013). "Former NBA Player Recalls the Time He Saved a Dolphin by Reaching his Arm Down its Throat". Archived from the original on 2013-04-11. Retrieved 2013-04-11. 

External links[edit]