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Filling the Void: The Willis Reed Game

Going up against Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West is tough on two legs, but Willis Reed did it on one.

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Filling the Void: The Willis Reed Game

Estimated Reading Time: 3 Minutes

We’re several weeks into our worldwide attempt to “flatten the curve” and have been offering daily escapes into the sporting events of yesteryear through our “Filling The Void” series. We’ve looked back on the inspiring, mind-boggling, and remarkable events as well as the ordinary, daily games we’ve been missing in our lives. We here at The Turf Sports sincerely hope you and your loved ones are staying healthy and being safe through these trying days. We’d also like to take a moment to send out a huge THANK YOU to all of those front-line folks keeping society going – from the medical community to those stocking grocery store shelves, delivering supplies around the country or helping us all fight this virus together in some other essential, invaluable way. You are all heroes.

On another note, we here at The Turf have always been of the mind that standing up for what is right and standing up in opposition to hate and violence is necessary. For resources on how to help the fight against systemic racism in the United States please check out the following links: Black Visions CollectiveLGBTQ Freedom FundNational Bail FundReclaim the BlockColor of Change, and Black Lives Matter

Today: Willis Reed takes the floor for Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals.

The current New York Knicks are an awful basketball franchise, but things weren’t always like this. In the 90s, the Starks/Ewing Knicks were an Eastern Conference powerhouse, and then of course there were the Knicks of the late 60s and early 70s.

Those are the Knicks that are playing in the 1970 NBA Finals against Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, and Elgin Baylor‘s Los Angeles Lakers.

This series has been back and forth as it heads into the final game. The series has been all but dominated defensively by the Lakers’ Chamberlain. But early on in the series, it was Willis Reed putting up all the points for the Knicks.

Heading into the fifth game with the series tied two games apiece, the Knicks suffered a blow to their championship hopes. Eight minutes into the game, Reed tore his calf muscle and had to exit the game. Despite the loss of Reed, the Knicks still pulled out a win in the second half. It was Game 6, however, that Los Angeles took the momentum with a 135-113 victory, sending the series back to New York for one more game.

The Knicks without Reed struggled to find cohesion in Game 6, and with his status questionable for the final matchup, the air was tense at the Garden.

As the crowd eagerly awaited the tipoff, Reed hobbled out of the locker room in full uniform. The crowd lost their minds, screaming and cheering for Reed as he began to warm up. Warming up a torn muscle in one thing, playing an NBA Finals game against NAB legends is another.

As the game began, with Reed in the starting lineup, it was obvious he was still feeling the effects of the injury. Yet, his first shot of the night went in and the crowd erupted. His second shot? Also nothing but net. Willis Reed on one good leg scored the Knicks’ first two baskets of the night, and they never looked back.

The Willis Reed Game is one of those rare sports moments that really doesn’t have anything to do with the physical game itself. It’s spiritual, it’s intangible, and it’s undeniable. We’ve all been there, whether it’s Matt Harvey coming out in the 9th or watching the Bruins pull off a miraculous comeback. There’s something magical about sports that can change the temperature of the room, and light a fire deep within the people around us.

Willis Reed did that for the Knicks in 1970 by sinking two buckets and fighting through intense pain. But then again, in his own words, “You close your eyes and grit your teeth. You’re doing it for a reason that is worth the pain and worth taking it because I mean you’re trying to do something that was going to be historical.”

But then again what else would you expect from the first black player to win NBA All Star MVP, the NBA Finals MVP, & the NBA MVP all in the same season?

Justin Colombo is a 2017 Broadway Show Softball League All-Star at 3B/SS. He's essentially the Manny Machado of the Kinky Boots team. Justin has been writing about Baseball since he was a little kid. Now that being an actor in NYC has given him a lot of free time, in 2015 he decided to take his passion public and founded Three Up, Three Down as a way to express his love for the game. From there, Three Up, Three Down grew from a hobby to an obsession. After years of growth and one insult from MLB's Historian, Justin launched The Turf, a way to expand into all areas of the sporting world. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter. LET'S. GO. METS.

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