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Willis Reed Rumors

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Reed averaged 18.7 points and 12.9 rebounds in 650 regular-season games before retiring at only 31 because of debilitating knee injuries. His story, however, will live forever in NBA lore for famously emerging from the Madison Square Garden tunnel before Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals and playing through injury to help the Knicks win their first title. “He was the backbone of the team,” Frazier said. “He led by example. He did it on the court. He worked diligently in practice. He always gave 110 percent. He would never let you get down.”
Tenacity is what separated Reed. It never mattered to him who stood in front of him. He gave every ounce he had. “If you played Willis one-on-one, he would pulverize you,” Frazier said. “If you played me, I’d carry you. I would be like Ali. I’d carry you for a while, let you stay in. Willis would just crush you. He’d be dunking on you and everything. This is the way this guy was, man. He took no prisoners. “I remember playing games with him, and he’d get so mad he’d almost squeeze the air out of the ball if he’s losing. I’d think, ‘This guy is crazy, man. It’s a pick-up game.’ But that’s how he approached the game, all business.”
On the final possession of the third quarter, Frazier had West on an island on the left baseline. He was setting up his turnaround jumper but, in mid-air, saw the trap coming and zipped a pass to Dick Barnett, whose jumper beats the buzzer and gives the Knicks a 94-69 lead entering the fourth quarter. “This was one of the best games I’ve ever played in and it’s just the way I felt I had to play before the game started,” he told reporters after the game as he wiped champagne off his face. “I felt I had to score at least 20 points and play great defense because I didn’t really expect Willis to play.”