We are sadden to report that Grambling State University alumnus & NBA Hall-Of-Famer Willis Reed has passed away at age 80. The news was confirmed by the New York Knicks, his former team, in a statement released on Twitter.
Reed attended Grambling State University from 1960-1964. Reed averaged 26.6 points per game and 21.3 rebounds per game during his senior year and led the Tigers to one NAIA Championship and 3 SWAC titles. He also became a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated during his time at Grambling. Reed was picked #8 by the New York Knicks in the second round of the 1964 NBA Draft. He made an immediate impact once he stepped on the court. He was named Rookie Of The Year in the 1964-1965 season, averaging 19.5 points per game and 14.5 rebounds per game.
Reed led the Knicks to their first NBA Championship in the 1969-1970 season. He became the first player in NBA history to win the NBA MVP, NBA All-Star Game MVP & NBA Finals MVP in one season. During the NBA Finals that season against the Lakers, he famously played despite suffering from a thigh injury that prevented him from playing in game six. Reed emerged through the tunnel, scoring the first two baskets of the game and energizing the Knicks to a historic victory over the Wilt Chamberlin & Jerry West led Lakers.
Willis Reed had a storied post-career journey. He went on to coach the New York Knicks, Orlando Magic & New Jersey Nets. He also coached at the college level with Creighton University. He also served as a front office executive, becoming the General Manager of the New Jersey Nets, assisting in building a contending team in the 1990s. He moved to become Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations in 1996, once again building a NBA title contender that made the Finals in 2002 & 2003.
Reed was named to both the NBA 50th & 75th Anniversary Teams teams for his excellence on the hardwood. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall-Of-Fame in 1982 after a ten-year playing career. The NBA also created the Willis Reed award in the 2021-2022 season. The award, named after him, honors the the NBA Southwest Division Champions.
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