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Willis Reed – 1972 -’73 Topps #105

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   Willis Reed, Jr. (born June 25, 1942) is a retired American basketball player, coach and general manager. He spent his entire professional playing career (1964–1974) with the New York Knicks. In 1982, his outstanding record and achievements were recognized by his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. In 1997, he was voted one of the “50 Greatest Players in NBA History.” After retiring as a player, Reed served as assistant and head coach with several teams for nearly a decade, then was promoted to General Manager & Vice President of Basketball Operations (1989 to 1996) for the New Jersey Nets. As Senior Vice President of Basketball, he led them to the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003. 1982, Reed was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1982. He is widely considered as one of the greatest Knicks players ever, with the likes of Walt Frazier and Patrick Ewing.
In 1964 Reed was drafted 10th overall by the Knicks, where he quickly made a name as a fierce, dominating and physical force on both ends of the floor. Reed made an immediate impact with the Knicks. In March 1965 he scored 46 points against the Los Angeles Lakers, the second highest single-game total ever by a Knicks rookie. For the season, he ranked seventh in the NBA in scoring (19.5 points per game) and fifth in rebounding (14.7 rebounds per game). He also began his string of All-Star appearances and was named the NBA Rookie of the Year. In his first seasons with the Knicks, he played power forward and later gained fame as the starting center. Despite his relatively average stature for a basketball player, he made up for his lack of height by playing a physical game, often ending seasons with respectable averages in blocking and rebounding. (He stood 6-foot-10 when contemporaries such as Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar stood 7-1 and 7–2, respectively.)
Reed’s most famous performance took place on May 8, 1970, during Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers in Madison Square Garden. Due to a severe thigh injury, a torn muscle that had previously kept him out of Game 6, he was considered unlikely to play in Game 7. Yet Reed surprised the fans by walking onto the court during warmups, prompting widespread applause. Starting the game, he scored the Knicks’ first two field goals on his first two shot attempts, his only points of the game. Reed’s performance inspired the Knicks, as teammate Walt “Clyde” Frazier went on to score 36 points with 18 assists. The Knicks won the game 113–99, giving New York City its first NBA title. The moment Reed walked onto the court was voted the greatest moment in the history of Madison Square Garden.

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