Sports history in Black: Willis Reed fights back pain to push Knicks to finals victory

By Mike Patton

NABJ Black News & Views

New York Knicks legend Willis Reed experienced a memorable moment on Oct. 17, 1970, when he limped onto the court in game seven of the NBA Finals.

NBA player Willis Reed is pictured in a 1972 publicity photo issued to the media by the New York Knicks. Photo credit: Willis Reed, public domain
NBA player Willis Reed is pictured in a 1972 publicity photo issued to the media by the New York Knicks. Photo credit: Willis Reed, public domain

He was suffering from a torn thigh muscle but pushed himself to help break a three-game-three-game tie with the Los Angeles Lakers. Reed wound up scoring the first two baskets in that game.

Reed’s appearance riled up the crowd at Madison Square Garden and inspired his fellow Knicks to a 113-99 win.

But before that moment, Reed was a big man for Grambling State University. During his college career, he amassed 2,280 points and averaged 26.6 points and 21.3 rebounds per game his senior season. His ability caught the attention of the Knicks, who drafted him with the eighth pick in the second round of the 1964 NBA Draft. Thus began the career of one of the great players in Knicks history.

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