NBA Hall of Famer Willis Reed has passed away at the age of 80.
The basketball community is in mourning after the news of the New York Knicks legend’s death, as reported by The New York Post.
Reed will go down as one of the most important members of the Knicks’ history spending 10 years at the team and leading them to their only two championships.
He was the first member of the Knicks to have his number retired and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1982.
He was referred to as ‘The Captain’ and also served as a coach and general manager after retiring from playing in 1974.
Reed provided one of the most iconic moments in NBA history that ultimately led to the New York side’s 1870 NBA Finals success.
The stage was the iconic Madison Square Garden and it was Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals.
The former MVP had been injured in Game 5 of the series against the LA Lakers and missed out on Game 6 - which his team managed a win to even the series at 3-3.
Fans, nor his teammates knew whether their star player would return for that final game.
The Knicks took to the court for pre-game warm-ups without him as worries grew over whether he would take part in the decider.
Just 15 minutes later attention immediately switched to the tunnel as the All-Star limped out to join his teammates and take the game to the Lakers.
WILLIS REED. THE TUNNEL. WHAT A MOMENT. pic.twitter.com/kPXNEM9DMf— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) March 21, 2023
The Garden erupted as the Los Angeles side turned their attention to Reed with looks of concern on their face.
Reed’s teammate Walt Frazier said of the moment: “I saw the whole Laker team standing around staring at this man.
“They stopped doing what they were doing to look and see how Willis was. Something told me then man, they’re very concerned. We may have these guys.”
The tunnel would be known as the ‘Willis Reed tunnel’ until the Garden was remodelled 30 years later.
He had endured a pre-game cortisone injection to ensure he could lead the Knicks to their first NBA title that year.
A legend of the game, the NBA community has come out in force to pay respects to the icon.
Rest in peace to the great Willis Reed.— BrunsonMuse (@BrunsonMuse) March 21, 2023
2x NBA Champion
2x Finals MVP
NBA League MVP (1970)
7x All Star
All Star Game MVP
1x All NBA First Team
1x All Defensive First Team
4x All NBA Second Team
Rookie of the Year
NBA 50th & 75th Anniversary Team
A true legend. 🕊️ pic.twitter.com/o28XUzHPGY
Willis Reed has passed away at the age of 80. A gentle giant. A huge loss for the NBA family.— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) March 21, 2023
Rest easy, Willis… pic.twitter.com/g2NlBtXfSG
Walt Clyde Frazier put it best. Not in our house.— KnicksMuse (@KnicksMuse) March 21, 2023
Willis Reed embodied what it meant to be a New York Knick, and will forever be remembered for his heroics in the Knicks only 2 NBA championships.
Rest easy, champ. pic.twitter.com/7nsF41jow1
Rest in peace Willis Reed 🧡💙 pic.twitter.com/6muQdMHIRJ— Big Knick Energy (@BigKnickEnergy_) March 21, 2023