*He was a great one. But sadly Willis Reed is no more. Reed, who won two NBA championships during his legendary career with the New York Knicks, has died. His death was announced today (03-21-23) by the National Basketball Retired Players Association. Reed was 80.
Reed only played for one NBA team and that was New York Knicks for 10 seasons from 1964-74. He was named to the All-NBA team five times, made seven All-Star teams, and won MVP in the 1969-70 season.
He also served as coach and general manager for the Knicks after his playing career ended in 1974. He also coached and was an executive with the Nets when they played their games in New Jersey and was an executive with the New Orleans Hornets from 2004-07.
Reed who played at the center position averaged nearly 19 points and 13 rebounds during his Hall of Fame career which was quite an accomplishment for an undersized player at that position.
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From a historical standpoint, Reed is probably most known for what happened during Game 7 of the 1970 NBA finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. After a thigh injury had sidelined him in the previous game, Reed shocked the Madison Square Garden crowd by walking onto the court during warmups.
He scored the Knicks’ first two field goals and went on to win Finals MVP as the Knicks won the franchise’s first championship. Reed was again named Finals MVP two seasons later after New York’s second title.
Reed’s No. 19 was retired by the Knicks in 1976 and he was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1982. He was also named to the NBA’s 50th and 75th-anniversary teams as one of the greatest centers to ever play the game.
Willis Reed was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1980, and as of last season, the winner of the NBA’s Southwest Division is awarded the Willis Reed trophy.
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