Season by Season
Reed Drama Seals Title for Cohesive
The Celtic dynasty was finally over. Bill Russell retired
as player and coach after the 1969 Championship and Sam Jones also retired,
with K.C. Jones having preceded him a year earlier. The new team to
beat in the East was the New York Knicks, who served notice by winning
a league-record 18 straight games early in the season. Willis Reed,
Dave DeBusschere, Bill Bradley, Walt Frazier, Cazzie Russell and Dick
Barnett played as a team on both ends of the floor, with no one player
dominating the spotlight. The other team to be reckoned with in the
East was Milwaukee, which catapulted to 56 wins in just its second season
with the addition of 7-2 rookie center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, then called
New York was extended to seven games in the Eastern Semifinals by Baltimore
before advancing, but had a much easier time with Milwaukee, ousting
the Bucks in five games. In the West, Jerry West had won the league
scoring title (31.2) almost out of necessity as Wilt Chamberlain hurt
his knee nine games into the season and didn't return until three games
remained. As a result Atlanta won the division by two games over the
Lakers. But with Chamberlain back for the Playoffs, Los Angeles swept
the Hawks in four straight to meet the Knicks in the Finals. The first
six games were classic battles, with the Knicks winning one, then the
Lakers tying the series, until a Game 7 loomed. The Knicks, with an
emotional boost from their injured captain, Reed, won to capture New
York's first NBA title in 24 years in the league.
KNICKS WIN IN SEVEN TO CAPTURE EPIC FINALS
The events of the 1970 NBA Finals remain indelibly etched in the memories
of those who watched, while others latched onto them the way youngsters
memorize tales of yore told by family elders. Reed had been having a
marvelous Finals, dominating the injury-slowed Chamberlain, until he
tripped and tore a leg muscle in Game 5. The Knicks scrambled with undersized
players against Chamberlain and hung on to win that game, but with Reed
out of Game 6, Chamberlain poured in 45 points to tie the series.
The Knicks left the lockerroom before Game 7 in New York not knowing
if Reed would be able to play. Just before tipoff, Reed hobbled through
the tunnel and onto the floor of Madison Square Garden. The fans erupted,
Reed scored New York's first two baskets, and the inspired Knicks went
on to a 113-99 victory.
"There isn't a day in my life that people don't remind me of
that game," Reed said years afterward.
NBA History Season by Season
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