Did Mike Francesa write this eulogy for Dan Le Batard?
"1 of the most famous moments in sports history, because…it happened in New York"
"…was only a moment then he limped back to the locker room"
"…only shot 2 shots the entire game & left"[Laughter]
–Miami's LeBatard Show day after Willis Reed's death pic.twitter.com/g5vO171ddI
— New York Basketball (@NBA_NewYork) March 23, 2023
Come on. Willis Reed — who died Tuesday at 80 — was a prince of a man. An all-time great. And his courageous Game 7 outing for the Knicks in 1970 was iconic. Just dumb stuff here. Nothing more to say. Back after this.
More on Reed:
The Knicks drafted Reed out of Grambling State in 1964 and he spent all ten of his pro seasons in New York. Reed was named to seven All-Star teams and won two championships with the Knicks in 1970 and 1973. He was named MVP of the NBA Finals both times, but Reed is absolutely known more for his performance in 1970.
In Game 7, Reed famously took the court with a torn thigh muscle that kept him out of Game 6. The Knicks beat the Lakers 113-99 as a clearly hobbled Reed managed just four points and three rebounds in 27 minutes. Some added context, Reed finished the Finals with averages of 23 points and 10.5 rebounds.
This was more indicative of Reed the player, the dominant New York center. He averaged 20 and 10 or better five times and only retired as young as he did because of mounting knee problems. His on-court accomplishments were further recognized when he was named one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players in 1996.
In retirement, Reed entered coaching. He spent a little over a year coaching the Knicks, from 1977-78, and went 49-47. Reed then went the college route and went 52-65 in four years at Creighton from 1981-85. His coaching career ended with a forgettable tenure with the then-New Jersey Nets, going 33-77 in less than two seasons.
But Reed stayed on with the Nets as an executive and did a pretty good job. Former New Jersey staples Derrick Coleman and Kenny Anderson were Reed draftees. Years later, he engineered the trade for Jason Kidd, who led the Nets to two NBA Finals appearances.
MORE ON ESNY:
• WATCH: Mets’ Daniel Vogelbach drops F-bomb on hot mic
• ‘ESPN First Take’ gets awkward about Chris ‘Mad Dog’ Russo’s ‘gummy’ usage
• We have a plan to help rid America of irritating ballhawks forever
• Mike Francesa wants Yankees to answer this Anthony Volpe question
• Rick Pitino says St. John’s will play more Madison Square Garden games
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @jameskratch.