Clyde, Willis Reed and the 1970 New York Knicks
Willis provided the inspiration, I provided the devastation. – Walt Frazier
Forty-five years ago today, the Knicks and the Lakers met in Madison Square Garden for one of the most memorable Game 7’s in league history. With Willis Reed and Walt Frazier leading the Knicks to their first NBA title.
With the win, New York became the first city in the United States to win titles in the NBA, NHL, NFL and MLB, done over a span of just over 30 years. The Knicks also became the third Big Apple team in less than 18 months to claim a Big Four championship, following the Jets in Super Bowl III and Mets in the World Series.
The Knicks had the NBA’s best record and got to the finals after beating the upstart Milwaukee Bucks lead by Rookie of the Year Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It was their first trip to the NBA Finals since 1953.
The Lakers were in their 3rd straight trip to the Finals and 7th in 9 years.
|Game||Date||Home Team||Score||Road Team|
|Game 1||April 24 (Fri.)||New York Knicks||124-112 (1-0)||Los Angeles Lakers|
|Game 2||April 27 (Mon.)||New York Knicks||103-105 (1-1)||Los Angeles Lakers|
|Game 3||April 29 (Wed.)||Los Angeles Lakers||108-111 OT (1-2)||New York Knicks|
|Game 4||May 1 (Fri.)||Los Angeles Lakers||121-115 OT (2-2)||New York Knicks|
|Game 5||May 4 (Mon.)||New York Knicks||107-100 (3-2)||Los Angeles Lakers|
|Game 6||May 6 (Wed.)||Los Angeles Lakers||135-113 (3-3)||New York Knicks|
The Knicks jumped out to a 3-2 lead, which included a victory over the Lakers at the Forum after Jerry West sent the game into overtime with a 60-foot buzzer beater.
In Game 5, however, Knicks center and captain Willis Reed suffered a torn muscle in his right thigh. With Reed on the bench, the Lakers crushed the Knicks in Game 6 behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 45 points.
Reed was not expected to play, but was able to hobble onto the court while the teams were finishing warm-ups. His entrance and then scoring the first two baskets for the Knicks sent the home crowd into a frenzy.
I saw the whole Laker team standing around staring at this man. When I saw that, when they stopped warming up, something told me we might have these guys! – Walt Frazier
Frazier led the Knicks with 36 points, 19 assists and 7 rebounds en route to a 113-99 victory.
The Knicks and Lakers would meet in the NBA Finals in 1972 and 1973, with the Lakers winning 4-1 in 1972 and the Knicks returning the favor in 1973.