Every so often, the NBA playoffs bring iconic moments. Consider the magnificent block Giannis Antetokounmpo had against DeAndre Ayton in Game 4 of this year’s Finals. Or the rundown block LeBron James had against the Warriors in 2016 (and notice that the block was kept in bounds and that Cleveland got the possession - very smart play). Or take this play by Michael Jordan against the Cavaliers in his era when nobody was going to get by the Bulls.
However, there is one iconic moment that took place even before the ball went up to start the game.
We’re referring to the 1970 Finals between the Lakers and the Knicks. Willis Reed entered Game 7 with a torn thigh muscle and was not expected to play. He was determined though and took treatment - probably cortisone - and hobbled out shortly before the game started.
His assignment was Wilt Chamberlain, the most supremely talented big man in the history of sports. Not just basketball. Sports. You can take any athlete over 6-8 and Chamberlain could have mastered that sport and won. That’s how spectacular his talent was.
That’s what Reed had to deal with - on one leg.
Nonetheless, he had the crowd in a frenzy and after he hit the first two shots of the game, the energy in Madison Square Garden was off the charts. There was no way LA could match it.
Afterwards, Howard Cosell told Reed that “[y]ou exemplify the very best that the human spirit can offer.”
This is one of the legendary moments in all of sports.