Champions: Clyde, Willis Reed and the 1970 New York Knicks

 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.

Intro

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.

Games 1-6

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.

Game 7

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.



Epilogue

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.


Stats

 REGULAR SEASON

Player Age TRB AST PTS
Walt Frazier 24 6.0 8.2 20.9
Willis Reed 27 13.9 2.0 21.7
Dick Barnett 33 2.7 3.6 14.9
Dave DeBusschere 29 10.0 2.5 14.6
Bill Bradley 26 3.6 4.0 14.5
Mike Riordan 24 2.4 2.5 7.7
Cazzie Russell 25 3.0 1.7 11.5
Dave Stallworth 28 3.9 1.7 7.8
Nate Bowman 26 3.2 0.6 2.9
Bill Hosket 23 1.8 0.5 3.3
Don May 24 1.4 0.5 2.6
John Warren 22 0.9 0.7 2.5
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/8/2015.
PLAYOFFS
 
Player TRB AST PTS
Walt Frazier 7.8 8.2 16.0
Willis Reed 13.8 2.8 23.7
Dick Barnett 2.1 3.4 16.9
Dave DeBusschere 11.6 2.4 16.1
Bill Bradley 3.8 3.2 12.4
Cazzie Russell 2.5 0.8 9.4
Mike Riordan 2.4 1.4 6.9
Dave Stallworth 4.1 1.1 7.2
Nate Bowman 2.4 0.3 2.4
Bill Hosket 1.0 0.4 2.2
Don May 0.0 0.0 2.0
John Warren 0.3 0.2 0.4
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/8/2015.
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