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Willis Reed surprised many, including his own teammates, by appearing in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals.
Photo via NBAE/Getty Images

Knicks center Reed provides stimulus to Finals win


Posted Mar 5 2013 3:53PM

Prior to Game 7, on May 8, 1970, at 7:30 p.m., Reed, the captain and main force of a multitalented New York Knicks team, was apparently sidelined with an injury that threatened his team's chances to win the NBA championship. Fifteen minutes later he had become a legend, and the Knicks were on the way to their first NBA title.

In the first four games of the Finals against the formidable Los Angeles Lakers, Reed had scored 37, 29, 38 and 23 points, respectively, while averaging 15 rebounds. In the fourth quarter of Game 5 he sustained a deep thigh injury. The Knicks managed to survive that encounter but were demolished by the Lakers in Game 6.

The series was tied at three games apiece entering the decisive contest at Madison Square Garden. New York's Bill Bradley recalled Game 7 in an article in The New York Times: "We left the locker room for the warm-ups not knowing if Willis was going to come out or not."

At 7:34 p.m. Reed limped onto the court. The crowd went wild, and his teammates' confidence returned with a vengeance. Reed somehow managed to outjump Wilt Chamberlain. on the opening tip, then scored the game's first basket on a shot from the top of the key. He then scored the second New York basket from 20 feet out.

He did not score again, but he didn't have to; he had already inspired the Knicks to seize the day. New York led by as many as 29 points in the first half and eventually won the contest, 113-99.

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