Willis Reed, a basketball legend who played a crucial role in securing the New York Knicks’ first championship title during the 1970 NBA Finals, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 80.
The National Basketball Retired Players Association, on behalf of Reed’s family, confirmed the news of his death, although the exact cause was not disclosed.
Reed is famously remembered for his inspiring return to the court during Game 7 of the NBA Finals, where he had been sidelined with a serious injury.
Moments before the game began, Reed emerged from the locker room, hobbled by a torn thigh muscle, and made a few quick baskets before sitting out the rest of the game. Despite his limited participation, Reed’s performance inspired his team, and the Knicks went on to win their first-ever NBA championship.
The incident has gone down in sports history as one of the most remarkable examples of an athlete playing through pain, and Reed’s heroism has remained a source of inspiration for countless athletes over the years.
In recent months, Reed’s health had reportedly been deteriorating, preventing him from traveling to New York for the Knicks’ celebration of their 1973 NBA championship team.
The basketball community mourns the loss of a true legend, and Reed’s legacy will undoubtedly continue to inspire generations of basketball players and fans alike.