Willis Reed is a Hall of Fame center and justifiably so. He battled Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Nate Thurmond and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on even terms despite being just 6-10, tops.
Reed won two NBA titles with the New York Knicks and became legendary when he emerged from the tunnel in Game 7 against Wilt Chamberlain and the Lakers in 1970 despite suffering from a torn thigh muscle.
He then scored the first two baskets of the game, basically on one leg, setting a standard for his teammates that they embraced, winning the title.
They won again in 1973 and Reed’s toughness was the heart of both runs.
He was famously tough and demonstrated it on many occasions, including at least one other time vs. the Lakers when he and Rudy LaRusso got into a fight and he ended up fighting - and beating - most of the Lakers roster.
No one endorsed fighting then, not really, and after the Kermit Washington-Rudy Tomjanovich disaster, much less the Malice at the Palace, the NBA wants nothing to do with it.
That said, this is one of the most spectacular brawls in NBA history. Reed was really, really strong and he went through the Lakers like a hot knife through butter.