Read what former NBA players, college coaches and fans have to say about Raymond Lewis.
Lorenzo Romar former University of Washington guard and NBA player with the Golden State Warriors for five seasons, now Head Coach for the Washington Huskies.
Romar had just finished the first season of his five year NBA career and decided to play his close friend Raymond Lewis one-on-one. Lewis burned Romar repeatedly with games of 11-4, and 11-2. Romar said, "When Lewis got mad, it would be 11-zip." Lewis later scored 67 points in a summer pro league game against his good friend Romar.
Romar said that he has played one-on-one against World Free, Sidney Moncrief, and Hall
of famer Isiah Thomas. "They beat me more than I beat them, but Raymond is harder to beat than any of those guys. Every player I've talked to said he'd be a great player in the NBA. It's really sad that he never made it."
During his coaching career, Jerry Tarkanian has led his teams to four appearances in the NCAA Final Four (UNLV in 1977, 1987, 1990 and 1991), one national championship (UNLV in 1989-90) and owns a 38-18 record in 18 NCAA tournament appearances. He has a total of 778 wins and a winning percentage of .803 forth best all-times. In 37 years at the major college and junior college levels he has never suffered a losing season.
"Tark" has recruited some of the greatest playground players of all-time including Lloyd "Swee Pea" Daniels, Rafer Alston, Richie "The Animal" Adams and such college and NBA
notables as Ed Ratleff, Sidney Green, Stacey Augmon and 1991 No. 1 NBA pick Larry Johnson. Forty-two of his players have been drafted by NBA teams, including 12 first-round selections. Tarkanian says about Lewis, "He was phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal. I followed him throughout high school. He had more God-given talent than anybody. "You can take the five best defensive players in the NBA and they couldn't stop this kid".
" Raymond would play all our players one-on-one and kill "em, and half of them were All Americans." he said. "He was as fast as Allen Iverson, only taller, bigger and stronger, I kid you not, he could handle the ball like you couldn't believe, just make the ball disappear."
I never saw anyone guard him one-on-one. I never saw anyone contain him. I never saw anyone stop his dribble penetration. In a college game once, he scored 73 points. I was mesmerized by his ability and I just couldn't believe it." In his novel 2005 novel Runnin' Rebel Tark proclaimed Raymond Lewis as "The Greatest Player I Ever Saw."
During his career with the Milwaukee Bucks, Marques Johnson was considered one of the three best forwards in the NBA, alongside Julius Erving and Larry Bird. He appeared in 5 All-Star games and averaged over 20 points and 7 rebounds per game.
In 1995 Raymond Lewis agreed to pose for Nike billboard advertising campaign about playground legends. While waiting for the photo shoot, he wandered over to a basketball goal in a nearby parking lot.
Marques Johnson, working in a TV studio nearby, walked up and saw Lewis shooting. "He's out there in his black slippers and he's firing, Johnson said. "Swish. Swish. Swish. At least 15 straight." "Without exception, the best player ever to come out of LA."
Jim Harrick's overall 22-year head coaching record is 451-227 (.665). His Pepperdine teams went 167-97, including four NCAA and two NIT berths. At UCLA, his teams posted a 191-63 record with eight consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. In two seasons at Rhode Island, Harrick built a 45-22 record along with two NCAA berths. During his years at Morningside High School's head basketball coach, Harrick said "Raymond Lewis is All-World. No, make that All-Universe."
Former Cal State-Fullerton basketball head coach now an assistant coach at Gonzaga University, Donny Daniels says he was awed by Lewis. "Raymond was probably the best player to never play in the NBA," said the highly regarded coach Donny Daniels, who was Lewis' teammate at Verbum Dei. "What Isiah Thomas did and what Allen Iverson and Stephon Marbury are doing today, he was doing in the '70s.
Since 1973, Frank Burlison is a guy who has seen almost all the marquee performers of basketball, including Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal, Jason Kidd, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Amare Stoudemire and LeBron James play before they received their high school diplomas.
He will tell you the best high school player he's ever observed was LeBron James, but Raymond Lewis, Magic Johnson, Kevin Garnett and John Williams weren't that far behind James.
"He'd get 60 to 70 points to show everyone how good he was." In 1973, Lewis and the Cal State L.A. basketball team opposed Ratleff and the Long Beach State basketball,
All-American, Olympian, and NBA's Houston Rocket Ed Ratleff comments. "He was great! If you could have traded players in college, I think Tark might have traded me for him." Ratleff, arguably the best player in Long Beach State 49ers history goes on to describe Lewis: "The things you see guys like Allen Iverson do today, Ray did 30 years ago." Lewis was a playground staple who would show up at summer leagues and embarrass NBA players with his shooting.
ranked #3 in the nation with a record of 22-1. It was one of Long Beach States best teams ever, with four of the five starters later playing for the NBA. Lewis scored 53 points that night in a double overtime 107-104 Cal State win, still considered by many as one of the greatest games in Los Angeles college history.
Carl Williams, the owner/general manager of the Long Beach Breakers had this to say when asked about Raymond Lewis.
"I played against Raymond Lewis at a park when I was still in high school. He was older with a beer belly, didn't know who he was. Whatever cockiness I had as a high school player is still at that park. He lit my ass up. Best shooter EVER PERIOD. No one in the NBA now or ever has shot or will shoot like him. He was magical, impossible what he did. Layup from 30 feet for him and ball wouldn't even touch the rim as it went thru the basket.
As a graduate student at Cal State, L.A. from '71 to '73, I was blessed to see Raymond Lewis play. As a player myself, I've been watching basketball on all levels since Elgin Baylor came to the Lakers. The game that Lewis played against Cal State Long Beach in 1973 was the greatest game I've ever seen anyone play at any level!
Better than Kobe's 81 against Toronto or any other performance I've ever seen, and I've seen most of them. Though now 36 years ago, I can still vividly remember the fallaways against triple teams as
he fell into the stands. I also remember that the undersized 6'5" Billy Mallory supported Lewis with Mallory's best game—an heroic 20 points.
When I think of Raymond, it still brings tears to my eyes that few outside of the insiders ever got to see him. I'd love for that CSLA-CSLB game at CSLA in 1973 be put on video. I remember that I went home that night and watched it again on (I think) KTLA channel 5.
Though it didn't capture the magic of being there (hard for the camera to capture the corner jumpers with Lewis falling away in the stands), it still would show the world perhaps the greatest performance ever. Love to see him dribble through the entire team again and again.
I also saw the 73 points he put up as a freshman against UCSB, but it really didn't look like he was even sweating in that one.
In the 71-72 season, I was "unfortunately" assigned to guard Raymond Lewis in two games as a member of the Loyola University (now LMU) Freshmen Basketball Team. Without a doubt, he was the finest basketball player I ever played against and I rank him as one of the greatest players ever.
I was very disappointed that he never got the opportunity to show the world, what those of us in the Southern California basketball community knew about him. Although he scored 28 and 24 points against us respectively, I always feared he could score at any time and in any situation (He scored 73 vs UCSB a few weeks later). As a high school and prep coach in the Southern California area for over 30 years,
whenever I'm approached with the question "who was the best you ever saw?" . . . I only smile and say "Raymond Lewis, without a doubt!"
Head Women's Basketball Coach
College of the Canyons
Santa Clarita, CA
I most definitely know who Raymond Lewis is. He is around the same age as me and even though I am from Canada I heard about Ray from guys I played with when I was at the University of Washington on Basketball scholarship. If you would like me to put a link on my website to the Ray Lewis site it would be my pleasure.
I attended Verbum Dei H.S. from 1970 to 1973. My 10th grade year at Verb, I had P.E. with Ray Lew. He would always tell me things like when you go for a lay-up, no matter how big or small the guy under the basket is never show any fear.
Go hard as you can under control. Raymond would play me one on one and spot me 10 points and we would go to 20, and he would win every game. He said if I wanted to be a great player, not a good player, but a great player, shoot every day, as much as I can. Let the ball and the basket be a part of me. Ray Lewis words and knowledge of the game gave me the incentive to become an excellent player for Verbum Dei, and I went on to become All League
first team my senior year, All CIF second team, second leading scorer behind Lewis Brown, also All Tournament team in most of our tournaments.
I received many scholarship offers and choose to attend the University of California, Riverside where I played for 4 years and received my degree. I played in some summer pro leagues, but never advanced to the NBA. Presently, I’m married with 3 children and employed as an Environmental Engineer. I thank God for Raymond Lewis being a friend and passing my way. By far, he was the greatest player I have ever seen.
Eric Thomas, hosting PA Sports talk in Pennsylvania, says, "Most of you won't have a single clue who Raymond Lewis is, so let me share a little information with you. Lewis was simply the greatest basketball player on the face of the planet."
Former NCAA coach Lyle Damon of San Diego State said "We played against Raymond Lewis in December of `72 and I think that Cal State L.A. had the locker room bugged at half time." After Lewis got only 12 points in the first half of the basketball game I made a statement that I thought he was overrated. He then scored 28 points in the first twelve minutes of the second half, and none of them were lay-ups."
I am a big Raymond Lewis fan as I can remember him being on the Los Angeles High School game of the week back in 1970. I also remember him during the first year of the Summer Pro League at Cal State LA.
My friend's parents ran the concession stands during those early years. The coach of their daughter's basketball team, Dick Marquis, was the founder of the Summer Pro League which is now at the Pyramid.
I also saw Raymond play up at the UCLA men's gym during the summer of 1979. Nobody could stop him and there were all kinds of players scrimmaging there. NBA, ABA, UCLA alumni, you name it. He was unstoppable! It's a tragedy that he never made it. I have told many people that Raymond was about 20-30 years ahead of his time. An agent in today's era would have him signed to a team. Can't wait for the DVD.
My friend, Dr. Nakagawa and I personally saw him play pick up at UCLA against pro players in the late 70s. In between games, we were standing underneath the basket retrieving the ball for him after he shot and he never missed! Absolutely a phenomenal player.
I saw him play at the Westchester High summer league when he had 81 points. He was a little overweight then, though. Dr. Nakagawa and I , being ballers ourselves would try to emulate his
moves when we played. No doubt he would be an icon today. I use to belong to a gym in Gardena and remember talking to a fellow member, Raymond Maybon I think was his name who also played at Verbum Dei.
He said he was in the Laker camp with Ray Lew. Also Norm Nixon and Brad Davis, both of whom were first round draft picks that year, were there. He told me that Ray Lew torched both of them. But the Lakers did not sign him because of their investment in Nixon and Davis. I vaguely recall seeing that LB state game on TV. If there is a tape of that game, I'd like to see it. I also can't wait for that DVD. Thank you for the website and your efforts.
If you were a prep basketball fan in Los Angeles in the mid 70's, before going to the parties in the Jungle or partying with the honeys at Maverick's Flat, you had to make a stop at Crenshaw High and attend the upcoming edition of the "Raymond Lewis Show" That was the name given to any Frat game played if Lewis was in uniform. The guy had incomparable offensive skill. When you combined ball-handling, passing, and the outside game, there was NONE better. For Raymond, the game was so incredibly easy and life was such a tremendous struggle.
I was googling for Raymond Lewis and found your web site today. I was at "the game" at El Camino college. I remember the four U.S.C. players including Paul Westphal against Raymond and other high school players. I remember Stevens from Gardena. If I can recall... he averaged 20/20 in high school. It was an exciting game in which Raymond dominated Paul Westphal. I thought it was great to see five high schoolers beat a ranked college team.
I have the Slam magazine with Raymond mentioned in it. It was the issue with the best street-ballers of all time. My father-in-law talks of him all the time. My father-in-law grew up in LA and played ball at Fremont then LACC then La Verne. He said flat out that Raymond was the best basketball player he has ever seen, and that means a lot coming from him.
I am a 1970 graduate of Verbum Dei. I was a star linebacker on the football team and I’ll tell you that Raymond would’ve been a great quarterback. To see this guy every day at school playing ball was breathtaking. I will tell everyone and anyone, that he was the greatest basketball player ever….on earth!
Thank you so much for your web site honoring Raymond Lewis. I am now 56 years old, and to this day, one of the greatest pleasures and memories I hold sacred is seeing Raymond Lewis up close and personal.
I was a junior at Cal State Los Angeles when Raymond entered school. I had heard the rumors about this legendary high school basketball player, and I was positive most of it was a myth. I had also heard
the rumors about how we came to get him on campus (red corvette, Adrian Shivers gaining admission and being on the basketball team, etc.)
I had seen some great players at Cal State L.A. My brother-in-law, Charles Thomas, was a great player for the Diablos, and he eventually went on to become a superstar in Spain. Ron Knight was a superstar for Cal State L.A., and he went on to play for the Portland Trailblazers. My roommate, Johnny Clark, had been the Los Angeles player of the year coming out of Jefferson High School in 1968, and Rodney Murray, Mose Adolph, Vincent Green, and James Deloach had all made first team All-City, and they all came to Cal State L.A. with Johnny. I also saw Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Sidney Wicks, Ed Ratleff, Curtis Rowe, Bill Walton, Keith Wilkes, Bird Averrit, and other great players during my years at Cal State L.A. I was no rookie when it came to observing great prep and college basketball players, so the rumors about Raymond were hard to swallow. That is, until I saw him play.
I could not believe my eyes. He was the greatest basketball player of all time. My brother, who went to Cal Poly Pomona, didn't believe me when I told him about this basketball phenom. He finally made the drive up to Los Angeles to see Raymond play, and we have been talking about one play that he made in that game for the past 36 years. Raymond came down court, dribbling the ball with his right hand, and he had his left hand tucked inside his jersey. He was triple teamed! He stopped his dribble about twenty feet from the basket and made a bounce pass to a teammate.
The three defenders followed the ball. Only one problem...Raymond had put some kind of magic spin on the ball and after it bounced toward his teammate, it reversed its direction and came right back to Raymond, like a yo-yo, and he nonchalantly made a wide open jumper. He turned his back to the basket and headed down to play defense before the ball even went through the net! That play was so amazing that no one would talk about it for fear that what they saw never really happened. I mean he passed the ball to himself, shot it, and didn't have to follow its flight into the basket to know it was a perfect shot.
Of course those who never saw Raymond play thinks he is a fictional character, but one of the blessings I have been afforded in this life was to be there when Raymond Lewis stepped on a basketball court.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to relive this feel-good story.
Cal State Los Angeles 1968 -1973
Posted: June 10, 2006
I am from Los Angeles, I now live in Maryland. I was talking to a brother on the phone today. As we talked about basketball, Ray Lewis name came up. He was truly without question the greatest Ballplayer of all time. No one was close. I worked with a cousin of his in LA. We played a game of BB @ Ver-D and he was there. He had to be in his early 40's and was overweight.
Someone called him the N WORD and from that point forward he shot out 3 straight games,
did not miss one shot and to cap it all off, did not shoot inside of 30 feet. Wonderful player. The NBA lost its greatest player the world lost more. He should be voted into the hall of fame. His children should never forget how gifted he truly was.
When I was a senior in high school we were in the same league as Verbum Dei. So I was fortunate enough to have actually played against him. I also saw the game where he got 53 against Long Beach. I attended Long Beach when Jerry Tarkanian was the coach.
I did not play on the team but I knew all the players and used to watch them practice. Raymond Lewis was better than Ed Ratliff, Glenn McDonald, Chuck Terry,
Leonard Gray, John Kazmer and all the rest of the players at Long Beach at that time. Raymond Lewis was without a doubt one of the best basketball players of all time. Hopefully he is now at peace in the arms of the Lord.
I discovered your web site recently and I have to agree with you about Raymond and his greatness on the basketball court. I came up the same time as Raymond did at Gardena High School. I played pick up ball with him on the same team and he was an exceptional talent.
I've been on the court with a fair amount of N.B.A. players including Marques Johnson who I played against in high school and Paul Westphal in pickup games. Those two were the best pro's I played with. Raymond was the best in my opinion of them all. In fact, I played with Raymond in a pick up
game when we were in high school against Paul Westphal. Raymond was the best that day. I would like to thank you personally for your work on this project.
I was Ray's team mate, running buddy and good friend. I was All CIF each year he was voted MVP. During a team scrimmage our Soph. yr. @ Verbum Dei, I happened to block Ray's deadly jump shot. He promptly told me "It will NEVER happen again"...Well, it never did happen again.
But trying to guard Raymond on a daily basis made me one of the best defensive players in the CIF. I dare say without bias, that Michael Jordan, Michael Cooper, Bruce Bowen and the "Glove"
Gary Payton in his prime, would not be able to effectively guard Raymond Lewis. After graduation, Ray went to Cal State LA and I went to the Univ. of Arizona. In my opinion, Raymond's "mental intensity" applied to the game of basketball far exceeded anything I've read about Michael Jordan.
Even though I moved to the East coast some time ago, I was shocked to learn how sick Raymond was. I talked to him on the telephone the day before he died. I kept saying, "Lewis breaks the press... Lewis breaks the press"... just like the announcers said when our games were broadcast on radio or television. I said that in order to give him inspiration to beat and overcome his illness but it was one press that he just couldn't break. I truly believe Raymond could have been ANYTHING he wanted to be. He wanted to be the best basketball player to step on the basketball court and he was.
I attended Damien High School 1969-1973; another all boys Catholic High School. In my freshman and Sophomore seasons we were in the same league as Verbum Dei. Our main sport was football and basketball. I was told at the start of the season, there was a team and player the likes of which I had never seen; and the word used was 'unbelievable'.
The first time we played them was at home; I was not prepared for what I saw that night. Raymond Lewis was truly a gift from God. He and his teammates played with polish and finesse; they beat us
by over 30 points. Flash forward to 2006 at the Staples Bowl in Carson at at football playoff game of Santa Margarita Catholic High School and Edison. I am sitting in the stands on a damp, wet night in a game that SMCHS is losing. Two gentlemen come over and sit by us late in the 3rd quarter.
I overhear one of them, in his late 50's say "Raymond Lewis and Verbum Dei." I interrupt and say, "that is a name that I have not heard in a long time. He was, without a doubt the greatest basketball player, high school, college, pro, that I have ever seen. People ask me all the time, 'what made him so great?' and my reply is 'I can't tell you because the things he did and I saw, no one else has ever done.'
Full speed he would cut and change direction and make a 1/2 court pass to a teammate that no-one saw open. He could hang in the air for days, then hit the shot. He was Earl the Pearl before Earl. I know he got some bad advice at Philly and then was black-balled from the NBA, but if the world had seen him perform.....
I hope he is looking down, with St Peter at his side, bouncing a ball and waiting for the next pick-up game. Thank you God and Raymond for allowing us to see him in action.
John Wooden Center Legends Awards
Hands-Down Best Player Ever Legend: Raymond Lewis. The former Verbum Dei standout is why you've ever heard of Verbum Dei and the name that rolls off the tongue of every Wooden Center vet. He could rain jumpers from 25 feet, one guy in his face, another pulling his shorts down and another getting a piggy-back ride. Scoring all 13 points was common. And don't think 35-foot shots on game point didn't fall.
In the early 1980's I helped the guy who was the Commissioner doing the Summer League at Compton College (MENTIONED ON THE WEBSITE) with some publicity - and I'm sure I have some of his scores during some of the games... What I remember about him during this time was in the 1980's he was getting a little overweight and had a slight paunch...on his first game, he came to the Commissioner and told him he didn't have any b-ball shoes....The Commissioner had me go to the trunk of his car with Raymond to pick out some shoes... on the way to the car, Raymond pilled a can
of beer out of his pants and finished off the can...burped... and threw the can in the trash...we found a pair of shoes his size... I asked him if he wanted trunks... he said no.....
Raymond went back inside, was inserted into the starting line-up against a team that featured Louie Nelson (I believe Louie's NBA career with New Orleans was over- he played opposite Pistol Pete Maravich).....well...Raymond, never before having played on that team -playing in borrowed tennis shoes, work pants, a visible paunch - starting shooting those beautiful fade-away jumpers from 30 feet - scored I'm sure over 30 points- and led his team to victory! He returned the shoes, walked out the gym.......and this was his MO the rest of the games whenever he showed up!!
THE CAT WAS GIFTED!!!!!!
I went to Miraleste High School and we played Verbum Dei and Raymond Lewis several times and we would watch him play games when we were in summer leagues and waiting to play. We were in awe of him. I swear he could run up the court at full speed, dribbling behind his back the whole way. It was beautiful to behold. He seemed to be able to do things while dribbling that even now don't seem physically possible. It's been 36 years since I saw him play and I still repeat over and over in my mind's eye his elegant moves, like a beautiful dream.
I'm glad you have this web site. Those of us who have seen Raymond play need to know it wasn't all just a dream! I don't think I will ever be more awestruck by the performance any human being in any field. Of course his teammates were good, too. I was on Ricky Hawthorne's JV team at Cal Berkeley. He soon went on to the Varsity and had a great career there.
At Miraleste we actually gave Verbum Dei a little trouble, I think. We had a smart coach (Coach Newcomber) who would play a box and one on Raymond, and we had a guy (Kevin Butler) who had incredible stamina and his job was to prevent Ray from getting the ball. That was the only way to keep Raymond from scoring: Don't let him have the ball!
I just found your really cool website on Raymond Lewis. I played freshman ball at Long Beach State in the 60's then followed them every game while Tark was coaching. I was present at the LA State game where Raymond scored at will.
I will never forget that performance. I often talk with people about the greatest players and I always mention Raymond Lewis as the best I ever saw play (and I played against Kareem when he was at UCLA).