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.”

On This Date: Willis Reed scores 38 to lead the Knicks past the Lakers in Game 3 of the 1970 NBA Finals

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.

 

On This Date: 1969-70 Knicks named Top 10 team in NBA history

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.

 

On This Date: Knicks win 18th straight game in comeback fashion

November 28, 1969: Knicks win 18th straight game with historic comeback against the Cincinnati Royals

The New York Knicks mounted an epic comeback to win their 18th consecutive game, a team record that still stands as of today.

Down 105-102 with less than 16 seconds remaining in the game, Dave DeBusschere stole the inbounds pass for a breakaway dunk. Down 1, the Knicks ran a tough halfcourt trap and Walt “Clyde” Frazier stole the ball with less than 10 seconds to go.  Frazier missed the shot attempt, but was able to grab an offensive rebound and drew a foul with 2 seconds remaining. The Royals attempted to ice Frazier by calling a timeout before taking both FTs. However, Frazier hit both FTs to take the lead.  Willis Reed stole the inbounds pass and the Knicks came out of the game as victors.

As an embodiment of the teamwork that permeated the roster, 5 Knicks scored in double figures. Frazier led the team with 27 points and Willis Reed scored 19 points.

It’ll be a long time before another Knicks team eclipses the 18 game winning streak set by the 1969-70 championship team.

On This Date: Knicks win then-record 12th straight game

November 15, 1969: Knicks win 12th straight game to set a team record.

The New York Knicks handily beat the Boston Celtics 113-98 to win a then-record 12 straight games. Willis Reed led the team with 27 points and Walt “Clyde” Frazier scored 21 points.

The team eventually won 18 straight games to set a franchise record that currently stands to date.

The 1969-70 season was a magical season for the Knicks. The team started the season with a 5-game winning streak. After losing the next game, the team went on an 18-game winning streak to start the season 23-1. Of the 18 straight victories, 14 of them were won by at least 10 points and nine games by at least 15 points.

During the 23-1 streak, the Knicks beat every single team in the league. In fact, the team beat every other team during the winning streak except for the Seattle Supersonics, whom they beat already in the season opener.

The Knicks ended the season with a 60-22 record and won their first NBA championship. The 18-game winning streak clearly established their dominance.