NBA Hall of Famer and New York Knicks legend Willis Reed has passed away at the age of 80. He led the Knicks to their only NBA championships in 1970 and 1973.
Reed was a large, physical enforcer inside during his 10-year NBA career. He was the Rookie of the Year in 1965, when he averaged 19.5 points and 14.7 rebounds per game. He began a streak of seven-straight seasons with at least 10 rebounds per game. Reed was also an adept scorer, averaging at least 20 points per game each season from 1966-67 through 1970-71. In addition, Reed was named an All-Star for each of the first seven seasons of his career.
Reed was the NBA MVP in 1970, with his most memorable moment in Game 7 of the NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. Reed missed Game 6 with a thigh injury and wasn’t expected to see action. He walked out of the tunnel to a sellout crowd, and although scoring only four points in 27 minutes, his presence lifted the Knicks to victory and the NBA title. Reed also won Finals MVP for the series and again in 1973 when the Knicks again took down the Lakers.
Knee injuries shortened Reed’s career, limiting him to 19 games in 1973-74 and an early retirement following the season at the age of 31. Reed’s number 19 was retired by the Knicks two years later, and in 1982 he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame. Reed spent some time coaching for a season with the Knicks and four seasons collegiately at Creighton. He was also an assistant coach for the Atlanta Hawks from 1985 through 1987.
Reed is a member of the NBA’s 50th and 75th-anniversary teams and retired with averages of 18.7 points and 12.9 rebounds per game.