NBA Commissioner Adam Silver mourned the painful passing of New York Knicks legend Willis Reed, calling the icon “the ultimate team player and consummate leader.”
Reed passed away on Tuesday at the age of 80. No cause of death was revealed, but longtime sports columnist Peter Vecsey shared in his report that the Knicks great “has suffered from congestive heart problems over the past year or so.”
In his statement, Silver celebrated the life of Reed and shared how the NBA champion provided him with some of his earliest and best memories of NBA basketball. Silver is from New York, where Reed played his whole career from 1964 to 1974.
“Willis Reed was the ultimate team player and consummate leader. My earliest and fondest memories of NBA basketball are of watching Willis, who embodied the winning spirit that defined the New York Knicks’ championship teams in the early 1970s,” Silver shared in his statement.
“He played the game with remarkable passion and determination, and his inspiring comeback in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals remains one of the most iconic moments in all of sports. As a league MVP, two-time NBA Finals MVP and member of the NBA’s 50th and 75th Anniversary Teams, Willis was a decorated player who took great pride in his consistency. Following his playing career, Willis mentored the next generation as a coach, team executive and proud HBCU alumnus. We send our deepest condolences to Willis’ wife, Gail, his family and his many friends and fans.”
Aside from being a two-time champion, Willis Reed had a decorated career where he won two Finals MVPs in both of the Knicks’ title runs, as well as the regular season MVP honor and All-Star Game MVP in 1970. He is also a seven-time All-Star and former Rookie of the Year, whose no. 19 jersey is retired by New York.
While Reed is gone, however, there is no doubt his legacy will remain forever. After all, this is the man who delivered some of the greatest moments in Knicks history.