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 fourth 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.
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.
"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,
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.