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.”
April 29th 1970: Willis Reed scores 38 points to propel the Knicks past the Lakers in Overtime
Willis Reed scored 38 points from the Knicks, who overcame a 14 point halftime deficit to defeat the Lakers on the road in overtime 111-108. After trailing 56-42 in the 1st half, the Knicks, led by Dave DeBusschere & Dick Barnett, stormed back to tie the game with minutes left in regulation. The Knicks did take the lead 102-100 with 3 seconds left, but Jerry West hit a miraculous buzzer-beating half-court shot to tie the game. Unfortunately for Jerry West, the NBA did not adopt the three point line until 1979, so the shot only tied the game.
In overtime, Barnett & Reed helped clinch the victory for the Knicks. With 38 points, Reed started off the series with a scoring average of 31.3 ppg. However, his main heroics would come near the end of the NBA Finals.
January 8, 1997: The NBA chose the 1969-70 New York Knicks as one of the Top 10 teams in NBA history
To celebrate the 50 year anniversary of the NBA, the league chose the 1969-70 Knicks as one of the Top 10 greatest teams in history. Members of the print and broadcast media that cover the NBA compiled a list of teams to nominate.
The 1969-70 Knicks had a record of 60-22 and won their first NBA championship. Four players on that team – Walt Frazier, Bill Bradley, Dave DeBusschere, & Willis Reed – were inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame. Additionally, Clyde, DeBusschere, & Reed were concurrently on the NBA 50 Greatest Players list.