NBA Finals NBA Finals


SI Flashback: NBA Finals

Finals MVP: Willis Reed, Knicks
In a reversal of the the 1972 Finals in which the Lakers won four in a row after dropping Game 1, the Knicks rode their gimpy big man to the title -- taking inspiration from Reed much like they had done in 1970.

Snapshot from Snapshot from Where there's a Willis

By Peter Carry

  Click for larger image May 7, 1973 John D. Hanlon, Sheedy & Long
Catalyst: The decisive factor, the gent who enabled the Knicks to dispose of the Lakers, was Reed. ... His contribution to the Knicks' victory was greater than his statistics -- 16.4 scoring average, .493 shooting percentage and 9.2 rebounds a game -- indicated. On defense he frustrated Wilt Chamberlain, whose scoring outburst over Jerry Lucas led the Lakers to the title last year. Against Reed, who is taller, stronger, heavier and quicker than Lucas, Chamberlain's attempts to back under the basket for his finger rolls and dunks yielded almost as many traveling calls, three-second violations and offensive fouls as they did goals.

They Said It
"Coming off an injury like mine, you have to expect that sometimes you'll advance a little and at others you'll fall back a bit. But I said at the beginning of the year that I was aiming to be ready for the playoffs and here we are." —Reed
On the attack: The Knicks had evolved an offense that allowed them to probe the heart of the Laker defense -- the area under the basket patrolled by Chamberlain. Last season New York tried to defeat Los Angeles by giving the middle to Wilt and shooting from outside. The failure of that strategy, far more than Dave DeBusschere's injury, sealed the Knicks' fate. This year first Bill Bradley -- high man among New York's five double-figure scorers with an 18.6 average -- and then the rest of the Knicks began driving and shooting right at Chamberlain, even though at the start he blocked many of their shots. Soon Wilt was spending more time guarding men other then his own and that was when Reed excelled.

Issue date: May 21, 1973