BREAKING: Willis Reed, arguably the greatest player in NBA history passes away aged 80

BREAKING: Willis Reed, arguably the greatest player in NBA history passes away aged 80

Image of NBA legend, Willis Reed. Credit: Wikipedia - By New York Knicks - eBay itemphoto backphoto front, Public Domain,

NBA star Willis Reed passed away at the age of 80 after battling congestive heart problems.

Willis Reed, the NBA (National Basketball Association) legend passed away this Tuesday, March 21, as reported by Peter Vescey, the prominent New York City columnist, on his Twitter account.

He tweeted: “Just received word that Willis Reed, 80, passed this morning. He has suffered from congestive heart problems over the past year or so, and was going through rehab to walk. Loved everything about Willis! A man’s man!!”.

Reed was arguably the greatest player to grace the sport of basketball. Nicknamed ‘The captain’, he spent his entire professional playing career from 1964 to 1974, with the New York Knicks.

Playing as a centre, despite his relatively average stature for a basketball player (6′ 10″), Reed made up for his lack of height by playing a physical game. He often ended seasons with respectable averages in both blocking and rebounding.

During his glittering 10-year career with the Knicks, Willis averaged nearly 19 points and 13 rebounds. He was a 7-time NBA All-Star. In 1970, Reed became the first player in NBA history to be named the NBA All-Star Game MVP, the NBA regular season MVP, and the NBA Finals MVP in the same season.

Undoubtedly his most famous performance came during game seven of the 1970 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers in Madison Square Garden on May 8, 1970. Willis was considered unlikely to play in this game due to a severe thigh injury, a torn muscle that had previously kept him out of game six, in game seven.

However, Reed surprised the fans by walking onto the court during warmups, prompting widespread applause. Starting the game, he scored the Knicks’ first two field goals on his first two shot attempts, his only points of the game.

Following the game, in the winner’s locker room, a moved Howard Cosell told Reed on national television, “You exemplify the very best that the human spirit can offer”.

Reed was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1982. In 1996, he was voted one of the “50 Greatest Players in NBA History’.

After his retirement from playing, Willis held positions as assistant and head coach with several teams for nearly a decade. He was subsequently promoted to general manager and vice president of basketball operations (1989–1996) for the New Jersey Nets.


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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at