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New York City is mourning the loss of Knicks legend Willis Reed. The NY icon passed away on Tuesday at age 80.
Reed spent his career as a New York Knick and co-led the team to two championships alongside fellow legend Walt Frazier. Reed’s legacy includes having a historic game named after him.
After Reed suffered a thigh injury against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, Los Angeles tied the championship series against the Knicks with a Game 6 win.
His status for Game 7 was a mystery to everyone but Reed. The big man braved the injury and made an extraordinary entrance at Madison Square Garden. New York and Reed completed their miracle run by closing out the series against LA.
“We left the locker room … not knowing if Willis was going to come out or not,” teammate Bill Bradley shared on the rollercoaster ride to Game 7’s tip-off.
Reed shared his side of the infamous Finals Game 7.
“For me to not go out there to try and be a part of that, to try and give whatever I could — and I didn’t know what it was — then I would be letting them down and letting myself down. If I tried and failed that’s the way I wanted it. I didn’t want to be a guy who didn’t come out and show he had the guts and grit to be there. … That was the moment to try.”
Reed was an individual talent that knew how to elevate teammates.
“He was the backbone of the team. He was the guy that took us to the first championship by his courage, and by his unselfishness,” Bradley added.
New York’s two championships come from Reed’s Knicks teams in 1970 and 1973. He played for 10 seasons and retired after the 1974-75 season.
The celebrated Knickerbocker retired with two rings, two Finals MVPs, seven All-Star selections and a regular season MVP (1970). The center averaged 18.7 points and 12.9 rebounds per game throughout his career.
After his retirement, The Captain worked as a head coach and general manager. He coached the Knicks from 1977-78. Reed’s No. 19 jersey was retired by the Knicks. The Hall of Famer was also selected to the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team.
The Knicks released a statement mourning Reed’s passing.
“The Knicks organization is deeply saddened to announce the passing of our beloved Captain, Willis Reed. As we mourn, we will always strive to uphold the standards he left behind — the unmatched leadership, sacrifice and work ethic that personified him as a champion among champions.
“His is a legacy that will live forever. We ask everyone to please respect the family’s privacy during this difficult time.”
Rest in Peace
Follow Alejandro Avila on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela
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