The day after New York Knicks legend Willis Reed died, sports shows across the country discussed his storied career and his impact on the team’s 1970 NBA championship. However, in Miami, radio host Dan Le Batard instead laughed off Reed’s famous moment.
Le Batard opened his March 22nd show by teasing a discussion of Willis Reed’s NBA finals moment by saying it was “one of the most famous moments in sports history because, of course, it happened in New York and when it happened in New York it’s the thing that’s remembered forever.”
This led to a quick rant against New York with Le Batard saying New Yorkers have “myopia” and now have all decided to move to Florida. “We don’t go there; they come here.”
The main segment of the show was entitled The Willis Reed Memorial Top 5 NBA Finals Moments where Amin Elhassan and Stugotz listed their top five moments in NBA Finals history while the rest of the studio reacted.
Before the lists began, Le Batard fit in another knock on Reed’s performance saying, “it was only a moment and then he limped back to the locker room.”
With the studio laughing, one of his producers chimed in: “I had no idea he only shot two shots the entire game and left.”
While it’s easy to mock the impact four points can have on a game, even if it happens to be the day after the player in question passed away, the commentary reeks of the same kind of myopia that Le Batard was so critical of earlier in the show.
Willis Reed’s impact on Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals went well beyond just the final box score.
Reed averaged 31.8 points, 15 rebounds, and 3.8 assists through the first four games of the NBA Finals before tearing a muscle in his right thigh eight minutes into Game 5. After sitting out a Game 6 loss, most people thought Reed would also miss Game 7, and he even stayed in the locker room when the teams went out for pregame warmups and was given shots of carbocaine and cortisone.
With his leg fully numbed, he came out of the locker room five minutes before the game, dragging the right leg behind him. He would hit two shots in the first few minutes of the game but simply being on the court was enough to push his team to their first championship.
“Just Willis’ presence was a psychological lift for us,” said Walt “Clyde” Frazier, who scored 36 points in Game 7 on 12-of-17 from the field and 12-of-12 from the free throw line while tying a playoff record with 19 assists.
If the man who dominated the game on the court is ready to credit Willis Reed for his impact on the game then that likely carries more weight than whatever Le Batard wants to say.
For more Knicks coverage, like this Willis Reed article, visit amNY Sports
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