NYC Mayor Eric Adams will always revere Knicks legend Willis Reed for the two championships he brought to the city of New York … but he tells TMZ Sports that Reed’s perseverance in the face of adversity is what makes him an icon in NY.
We spoke to Mayor Adams just days after Reed passed away at 80 years old … and asked what Reed’s legacy means to him now that the NBA legend is no longer with us.
“Willis Reed was my guy,” Mayor Adams said. “He showed the resiliency of New York. Everyone remembers that championship game. Walking on one knee. His scoring the points. He’s New York.”
“We may have lost him physically, but he will always be here spiritually,” he added.
Reed — a seven-time All-Star and two-time NBA champion — passed away on Tuesday … and had been reportedly battling congestive heart failure.
Willis — affectionately known as “The Captain” — won two titles with the Knicks … but he’s most remembered for playing in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals against the Lakers.
Before Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals, it was unknown if Willis Reed would play due to a right thigh injury. He then came out of the tunnel to help lead the Knicks to their 1st ever NBA Championship! #TeamDays | @nyknicks pic.twitter.com/G0dIplhtli
— NBA TV (@NBATV) August 1, 2018
Reed’s status for Game 7 was in question … but the 6-foot-10 center emerged from the tunnel just moments before the deciding game started, walking gingerly onto the court — and sent the crowd at Madison Square Garden into a frenzy.
The rest was history — Reed delivered the Knicks their first championship in 1970 and won another chip in 1973. In 1982, Willis was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.