The New York Knicks legend Willis Reed has died at 80.
Reed, also known as “The Captain”, led the Knicks’ to the NBA championships in 1973 and 1970. These were the only titles in the history of the franchise. Reed played his entire 10-year career with Knicks. He was awarded seven all-star selections as well as the MVP award for the 1969-70 season.
The team released a statement saying that the Knicks were deeply saddened by the loss of Willis Reed, their beloved Captain.
“As we grieve, we will continue to strive for the standard he left behind — his unmatched leadership, sacrifice, and work ethic that made him a champion among champions. His legacy will last forever. We ask that everyone respect the privacy of the family during this difficult time.
The New York Post documented Reed’s most memorable moment during Game 7 against the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1970 NBA Finals. After suffering a fall at the end of Game 5, Reed missed Game 6. His career was cut short by injuries. Reed, who was tied at three games each, was unable to play Game 7 before the Madison Square Garden fans.
After pregame warmups, Reed limped out the tunnel to a standing ovation from Knicks fans. He was also surprised by his teammates. Reed led the Knicks to their first championship, and he was awarded the finals MVP award. When the Knicks won the title again, he won the finals MVP award.
Reed was the first Knicks player who had his number retired in 1976. He was also inducted into Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame 1982. In 1996-97, the NBA named Reed one of the 50 most outstanding players in the league.
As a power forward and center, he averaged 18.7 and 12.9 points per game. He was drafted by the Knicks as the 10th overall pick in 1964’s NBA draft from Grambling State University. Before leaving the Knicks, he briefly coached them before returning to Creighton as a coach from 1981-85.
Later, he coached the New Jersey Nets. He eventually joined the franchise’s top office and helped the Nets to become a contender for the championship.