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: Knicks honor 40th anniversary of the 1973 Knicks

April 5th 2013: Knicks honor the 40th anniversary of the 1973 Knicks

The Knicks honored the 1973 Championship Knick team on this date. The team got together the day before to reminisce on their heyday at Aretsky’s Patroon in New York City. The team was officially recognized at halftime of the Knicks-Bucks game.

The ceremony began with a video narrated by Al Trautwig. The team brought out the original championship trophy from 1973. All the living players were introduced one-by-one. For those who passed away, – including Red Holzman and the team trainer – the team had a special representative from the family join the ceremony.

The most notable player in the ceremony was Phil Jackson. Phil finally made his return to MSG not as a coach, but rather as an alum of the Knicks. The Knicks spent multiple efforts to lure Phil Jackson back into coaching the team in 1999 and 2005. The efforts were futile as he continued on his journey to win championship rings with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Earl Monroe ended the ceremony with a passionate speech about the team. He gave several complimentary remarks for the 2012-13 Knicks squad that would ultimately reach the 2nd round of the NBA Playoffs.

On This Date: Clyde helps Knicks crush 76ers

March 7th 1973: Clyde Frazier helps Knicks crush the Philadelphia 76ers

The Knicks rounded back to form to rout the hapless Philadelphia 76ers 120-94. Clyde led the way with a near triple double and had 28 points, 13 rebounds, and 9 assists. Bill Bradley also had 22 points in 34 minutes. Both Willis Reed & Phil Jackson had double doubles with the same identical statline of 17 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 assists.

Both teams headed in different directions that season. The Knicks eventually won their 2nd NBA championship as they defeated the Los Angeles Lakers. The 76ers lost every game for the remainder of the season as they finished 9-73. The team eventually drafted Doug Collins with the #1 pick in the NBA Draft. Collins spent his entire NBA career with the 76ers and made 4 All Star teams before entering the coaching and broadcasting worlds.

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 hire Red Holzman. 39 years later, the Knicks play a Triple OT thriller

December 27, 1967: The New York Knicks hire Red Holzman as Head Coach

In a franchise altering move, the Knicks fired Dick McGuire and hired Red Holzman as head coach. McGuire – a native of the Bronx – spent 8 years playing point guard with the Knicks and was a 7-time NBA All Star. After a stint as player-coach and head coach with the Detroit Pistons, the Knicks hired him as head coach in 1965.

While McGuire was a superb player as a Knick, his dominance didn’t translate as head coach. He had a 75-103 record with the team before his dismissal. At the time, the Knicks were in last place. He wasn’t able to get a full season of Willis Reed & Walt “Clyde” Frazier. However, the Knicks later hired McGuire to join their front office and remained there until his death in 2010.

Red – a native of Brooklyn – spent the previous 10 seasons as the chief scout for the Knicks. He was responsible for discovering and drafting both Willis and Clyde. Despite his preference to be a scout, team president Ned Irish convinced Holzman to coach the team.

Irish’s persistence had major dividends for the franchise. Holzman led the team to their only two championships. The key stars he coached – from Earl Monroe to Clyde Frazier to Wills Reed – all made the Hall of Fame.


December 27, 2006: Knicks win a Triple OT Thriller against the Detroit Pistons

The Knicks shocked the Madison Square Garden faithful with a thrilling 151-145 Triple Overtime victory against the Detroit Pistons. The Knicks withstood a career high 51 points from Rip Hamilton and double-doubles from former Knicks Antonio McDyess, & Nazr Mohammed. Future Knick Chauncey Billups also had a double double with 17 points and 10 assists.

The Knicks led by 3 points with less than 10 seconds left in regulation before Carlos Delfino tied the game with a three. The Knicks fell behind by 5 with less than two minutes left in overtime before tying the score and sending the game to Double OT. With the Knicks down 136-134 , Channing Frye hit a buzzer beating shot to send the game to Triple Overtime. The Knicks were able to hold an early lead in triple overtime and sealed the victory.

Stephon Marbury led the Knicks with 41 points and 8 assists while hitting 12-15 from the foul line in 50 minutes. The quartet of Marbury, Eddy Curry, Jamal Crawford, & Channing Frye scored a combined 129 points and made a combined 40-48 from the free throw stripe.

Since the Nuggets/Knicks brawl, the Knicks had a stretch of gritty performances and buzzer beaters that was capped by their performance on this date.

 

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.

On This Date: Knicks fire Willis Reed and re-hire Red Holzman

November 10th 1978: Knicks fire Willis Reed and re-hire Red Holzman as head coach

A year removed from leading the Knicks to an Eastern Conference semifinals berth and a 43-39 record in the 1977-78 season, the team fired Willis Reed as head coach after beginning the season with a sub-par 6-8 record. In a reunion of sorts, the Knicks brought back Red Holzman as head coach after firing him at the conclusion of the 1976-77 season.

After retiring from the NBA in 1974, the Knicks hired Reed as head coach when he was only 35 years old. While having a solid first season as coach, his short tenure was marred by tension with the front office and a failure to translate from being a superstar to a coach.

To Reed, his main issue was being too honest. His honesty led to undue tension with referees and the front office at times. His tenure was undermined by rumors that then-Knicks owner Sonny Werblin wanted Kevin Loughery as a coach. The rumors drove a wedge between Reed and the front office.  Reed began to issue ultimatums to the front office, which ultimately led to his firing.

Holzman returned to the Knicks after being fired for enduring 3 straight losing seasons and not being able to replicate a championship roster.  Unfortunately, Holzman was not able to replicate the success he had during his first tenure.  Holzman had a sub-.500 record during his 2nd tenure with only one playoff berth.  (they were swept by the Bulls in the 1981 playoffs)

Holzman retired after the 1981-82 season and was succeeded by Hubie Brown.