On This Date: Willis Reed, with a torn thigh muscle, triumphantly returns in Game 7 to help the Knicks win their first NBA Championship

May 8th 1970: Willis Reed hobbles to the floor to lead the Knicks to their first NBA Championship

One of the most iconic moments in sports history. Willis Reed, with a torn thigh muscle expected to sideline him in Game 7, surprised the Madison Square Garden faithful and the NBA on ABC broadcasting team as he limped from the tunnel to the court to play in the final game of the NBA Finals. After missing Game 6 due to the injury, Reed received some painkillers before shootaround before limping onto the court.

Reed started the game scoring on his first two jumpshots. Despite not scoring a basket afterwards, his perseverance inspired his teammates. Although Reed was hobbled, he played a valiant defensive effort on Wilt Chamberlain, forcing a few missed shots while in action. His energy instead translated over to Walt “Clyde” Frazier.

Clyde had one of the most impressive playoff performances in NBA history with 36 points, 19 assists, and 7 rebounds on 12-19 from the field and 12-12 from the free throw line. The performance was overshadowed by Willis Reed’s comeback from his injury.

The Knicks defeated the Lakers 113-99 to secure their first NBA championship in team history. Willis Reed earned MVP honors due to his valiant effort to return from injury as well as his dominant performance in the first 4 games of the NBA Finals. Reed averaged 31.8 ppg, 15 rbs, & 3.8 asts over the first 4 games before the injury.

The 1970 Knicks are widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball teams in NBA history. Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals is one of the greatest games ever played in sports. After the Knicks basked in the championship victory, legendary ABC broadcaster Howard Cosell told Reed, “You exemplify the very best that the human spirit can offer.”

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