Ray Felix, 60, Is Dead; Knicks Center in 50's
Published: July 31, 1991
Ray Felix, who played five seasons as a center for the New York Knicks in the 1950's, died on Sunday at his home in East Elmhurst, Queens. His son, Ray Jr., said the cause of death was a heart attack. Mr. Felix was 60 years old.
Mr. Felix, a New Yorker, played his college basketball at Long Island University under Coach Clair Bee. After college, he and Coach Bee both joined the Baltimore Bullets.
The 6-foot-11-inch pivotman won rookie of the year honors in the National Basketball Association in 1953-54 after leading the Bullets in scoring with an average of 17.6 points a game. After the season he was traded to New York for Al McGuire and Connie Simmons.
In 376 games with the Knicks, he averaged 12 points and 9.1 rebounds. New York traded him to the Lakers on Jan. 24, 1960. After ending his pro career in Los Angeles in 1963, he worked for many years with the New York City Parks Department. In recent years, he was a supervisor at the Harlem Men's Shelter for the homeless.
Mr. Felix is survived by his wife, Gloria: a son, Ray Jr., and four sisters.
A 6' 11" center from Long Island University, Felix was selected by the Baltimore Bullets with the first pick in the 1953 NBA Draft. He won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award in 1954 after averaging 17.6 points and 13.3 rebounds. Felix was also the second African-American, following Don Barksdale, to be named an All-Star. Felix spent nine seasons in the league, and played for the Bullets, New York Knicks, Minneapolis Lakers, and Los Angeles Lakers. Felix had an incident with future hall of famer Bill Russell in Russell's rookie season, when after Russell felt Felix had been trying to intimidate him, he knocked Felix unconscious with a punch to the head. Toward the end of his career, after having several of his shots blocked by Russell, Felix took the ball the flung it off the side of the backboard, saying to Russell, smiling, "You didn't get that one!" Felix averaged 10.9 points and 8.9 rebounds per game, with career totals of 6,974 points and 5,652 rebounds. He retired in 1962.
Follow his retirement he worked for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation where he sponsored a basketball tournament in Elmhurst, Queens and later worked as a supervisor at Harlem men's shelter. He died of a heart attack on July 28, 1991. He had a son, Ray Jr., with his wife Gloria.