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Monday, May 7, 2001
Inspired by Reed, Knicks capture first NBA title

By Larry Schwartz
Special to ESPN.com

May 8, 1970

Willis Reed can hardly walk, much less run. But the Knicks center is determined to play. After all, it's the seventh game of the Finals. When he comes out a couple of minutes before game time, after receiving a pain-killing shot, the capacity crowd at Madison Square Garden awards him such a standing ovation that it sends chills up the spines of many.

"When (the fans) pulled down the roof for Willis, it lifted us sky high," says Knicks forward Bill Bradley. "Reed's courage is incredible. We all knew what he was going through. The pain must have been terrible. When he walked onto that court to be with us for this game we knew what we had to do. We knew we had to win it for Willis."

And they do. After Reed, who missed Game 6 with an injured muscle in his right leg that ran from the pelvis to below the knee, hits the Knicks' first two baskets -- his only points of the game -- his teammates take over against the Los Angeles Lakers. Walt Frazier plays the game of his life (36 points, 19 assists, seven rebounds) and Dave DeBusschere (18 points, 17 rebounds), Dick Barnett (21 points) and Bradley (17 points, five assists) all shine.

The game is decided by halftime, 69-42. The final is 113-99, and the Knicks win their first NBA title in their 24-year history. Reed plays 27 minutes, dragging his injured leg up and down the court. He uses his 235 pounds to keep Wilt Chamberlain (21 points) in check. For his inspiration and perspiration, he wins the Finals' MVP.