For Black History Month, we will spotlight some of the greatest athletes in Historically Black College and University History. Today we spotlight a man who gave the world one of the most inspirational moments in Sports history.
Willis Reed attended Grambling State University, averaging 26.6 points per game and 21.3 rebounds per game during his senior year. He led the Tigers to one NAIA title and three Southwestern Athletic Conference championships.
After Graduation, Reed was drafted by the New York Knicks in the 2nd round of the 1964 NBA Draft, While he was smaller than some of the all-time greats such as Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Russell he would be matched with (Reed was 6’9), he would match them with a bruising physical style that would wear down his opponents.
The Knicks, stared to slowly turn into contenders and in 1970, found themselves in the NBA Finals. In game seven of a hotly contested series with the Los Angeles Lakers, Reed would turn in one of the greatest moments in Sports History. Reed suffered a severe thigh injury that kept him out of Game six and left him uncertain for the final game of the finals. With the series hanging in the balance, Reed walked limping onto the Madison Square Garden court and scored on his first two of the game. The Knicks would go on to defeat the Lakers 113-99, winning their first NBA championship in team history. Reed would win MVP Honors, the first HBCU athlete to win the honors..
Reed would go on to become a head coach and successful NBA Executive. His career achievements include:
2× NBA champion (1970, 1973)
2× NBA Finals MVP (1970, 1973)
NBA Most Valuable Player (1970)
7× NBA All-Star (1965–1971)
NBA All-Star Game MVP (1970)
All-NBA First Team (1970)
4× All-NBA Second Team (1967–1969, 1971)
NBA All-Defensive First Team (1970)
NBA Rookie of the Year (1965)
NBA All-Rookie Team (1965)
NBA 50th Anniversary All-Time Team
No. 19 retired by New York Knicks