Basketball legend and hall of famer, Willis Reed, died Tuesday at the age of 80.
The NBA Retired Players Association confirmed the news in a tweet. “The basketball community has lost a Legend. Our hearts are with the family, friends and fans of Willis Reed,” it read. Basketball columnist Peter Vecsey, was the first to report the news. He added that Reed “suffered from congestive heart problems.”
About Willis Reed
Reed played 10 seasons in the NBA for the New York Knicks. He also served as coach and general manager for the team when he ended his playing career in 1974. He is most famously known for playing Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals with a torn muscle in his right thigh. The player sustained a thigh injury in Game 5 and sat out of Game 6. When it came time for Game 7, no one knew for sure if he would be able to play. He surprised everyone, including his teammates by coming out on the court minutes before the game. He gave the team their first few points which led the Knicks to their first championship.
Reed was named the MVP of that finals game. Additionally, was named MVP for the season. Before the thigh injury, he put up 31.8 points and 15.0 rebounds in the first four games of the series. In 1973, he once again helped the Knicks win the championship and won the Finals MVP once more.
He played in seven All-Star games, averaging 18.7 points and 12.9 rebounds per game during his career. The star was also named rookie of the year following the 1964-65 season, making him the first member of the Knicks to win that title.
He was the first member ever from the Knicks to have his number retired. Reed was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1982. He was also named among the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history during the 1996-97 season.