Willis Reed, Grambling
Photo: Grambling State Athletics

Grambling State has announced that it will be honoring Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer and star alumnus Willis Reed by naming its basketball court after him.

The ceremony is set to take place at halftime of Grambling State’s game against Southern on Saturday, Jan. 15 in what is being dubbed ‘Legend’s Night.’ In addition, the university will also be retiring his jersey.

Reed played for Grambling State from 1960-64 averaging 18.7 points and 15.2 rebounds per game in his career leading the team to two SWAC championships.

He went on to the NBA where he was the 10th overall pick in the 1964 NBA Draft by the New York Knicks.

In his first season in the NBA, Reed won the Rookie of the Year award averaging 19.5 points and 14.7 rebounds per game.

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In 1970, he led the Knicks to their first-ever NBA championship beating the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games. He has been immortalized in NBA history for his courageous performance in the series-clinching game playing through a torn thigh muscle.

Reed’s 1970 season saw him become the first player in NBA history to win the league MVP, All-Star MVP, and Finals MVP all in the same season. To date, he is the only alumnus of an HBCU to win any of these awards.

After the Knicks lost in the NBA Finals to the Lakers in 1972, a series Willis Reed missed after sitting out the majority of the season due to injury, the Hall of Famer returned the next year to once again lead the Knicks to a championship defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals in five games and was named Finals MVP for a second time.

Reed is the first player in NBA history to win two NBA Finals MVPs an award that was introduced just four years earlier.

Unfortunately, injuries derailed Willis Reed’s career forcing him to retire in 1974 at the young age of 31.

He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1982 and has been selected to the NBA’s 50th and 75th Anniversary teams.


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