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The seven-time NBA All-Star and two-time champion spent his entire 10-year NBA career playing for the New York Knicks

According to the NY Times, Reed’s death was confirmed by his former teammate and friend, Bill Bradley.

Bradley stated that Reed suffered from “congestive heart issues.” While no official medical examiner’s report has been released, Bradley did note that Reed had been under treatment at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston. 

Willis Reed is New York Knicks royalty

Willis Reed grew up in the rural area of Hico, Louisiana. The 6 foot 10 hooper was a second-round (10th overall) pick out of Grambling State in 1964.

He went on to be named NBA’s Most Valuable Player for the 1969-70 season, and won Finals MVP during New York’s championships in 1970 and 1973. 

The NY Knicks tweeted a message in memory of No. 19 walking onto the court. The image was captioned, “Our Captain.” 

Reed’s most memorable performance was in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. The center/power forward had been absent during Game 6 due to a torn thigh muscle.

Fans at the Madison Square Gardens expected Reed to miss Game 7 but were surprised when he started the game. He scored the game’s first two buckets and played for 27 minutes.

His legendary perseverance set the tone for the rest of the game, pushing the Knicks to snag the championship that year. 

YouTube video

Reed’s career as an active basketball player was cut short due to injury but he continued to be active within the sport. 

He returned to coach his former team during the late 70’s. After 96 games with the Knicks he ventured into college sports as the head coach at Creighton University and assistant at St. John’s, according to CBS Sports

He provided his expertise to the Hawks and Kings, and again to the New Jersey Nets during their 1988 season. 

Reed left the court for the office and became the Net’s general manager and vice president of basketball operations. He kept that same position with the New Orleans Hornets until his retirement in 2007. 

Reed’s legacy has been honored by the Knicks and NBA previously with the retirement of his jersey and his inclusion in NBA’s 50th and 75th anniversary teams.

He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1980 and is the namesake for the trophy awarded to the winner of the NBA’s Southwest Division.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver shared fond memories of Reed as he sent a message of condolences to the icon’s wife and family. 

The Knicks haven’t won a championship since Reed’s retirement. Known as a “gentle giant” that took rookies under his wing, his efforts on and off the court etched an enduring legacy with fellow teammates and the city that never sleeps. 

Martie Bowser

Martie serves as the Entertainment Reporter for The Black Wall Street Times. She covers numerous topics including viral social moments to the most exciting happenings in Black Hollywood. For tips or story...

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