Former player Willis Reed, two-time NBA champion with the New York Knicks, died at the age of 80, announced Tuesday March 21 the association of former players of the professional basketball league (NBA) as well as his lifelong club. His former teammate, Bill Bradley, told the New York Times that the native of Louisiana, where he had retired, suffered from heart problems.
“The Knicks are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our dear Captainwrote the franchise on its Twitter account. We will always be committed to holding ourselves to the standards he leaves behind. The unparalleled leadership, sacrifice and work ethic that made him a champion among champions. »
Willis Reed remains to this day the emblem of the great hours of New York professional basketball, which date back more than half a century and have never been approached since. This rough 2.08m pivot, raised in the segregationist South, was the soul of the Knicks champions in 1970 and 1973, who shone with their defense unmatched in the league at the time.
direction of rebound
With a limited trigger but a sense of rebound and positioning well above average, “The Captain”, one of his nicknames, was also a threat in attack, thanks to a rich technical register.
Of his career, undermined by injuries, many will have especially remembered his performance in the decisive seventh game of the 1970 final against the Los Angeles Lakers. Injured in the left leg during the fifth game, absent during the sixth, Willis Reed made a surprise comeback during the final meeting of the series, after receiving three injections of anti-inflammatories.
He scored the first two baskets for the Knicks, his only points of the game, and gave his team the momentum they needed to win and win the first trophy in their history.
He will be voted NBA’s best player for the 1969-1970 season and twice best player in the Finals. More than any other player of this golden New York generation, Willis Reed embodied altruism and the importance of the collective.