Old Knicks Watch New Knicks Lose Again

Published on: 23rd February, 2010


Old Knicks Watch New Knicks Lose Again

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 22: (top row left to right) Don May, Bill Hosket, Mike Rordan and John Warren (bottom row left to right) Cazzie Russell, Bill Bradley, Willis Reed, Walt Frazier and Dick Barnett of the 1970 World Champion New York Knicks pose for a photo before being honored for their 40th anniversary on February 22, 2010 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2010 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Don May;Bill Hosket;Mike Rordan;John Warren;Cazzie Russell;Bill Bradley;Willis Reed;Walt Frazier;Dick Barnett  | read this item

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New York –The old Knicks came back to the old Garden tonight to watch the new Knicks play but what they got was the same old, same old.

The Knicks are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the franchise’s first world championship, won in 1970 so out marched some of the great old names from Knicks history. There was Bill Bradley, Willis Reed, Walt “Clyde” Frazier, Dick Barnett and the rest of that great team as they became the focal points of the evening’s festivities which turned out to be a good thing since the home team didn’t exactly honor the heritage of that championship season, losing in the most pathetic of ways to the 27-28 Milwaukee Bucks, 83-67.

The game was most definitely not the highlight of the evening as the current-day version of the Knicks, supposedly energized by the recent acquisitions of Tracy McGrady, new starting point guard Sergio Rodriguez, and Eddie House laid one of the biggest offensive eggs of this 19-36 season by scoring a season-low in points, including just 26 points in the second half. The Bucks weren’t much better, tallying only 36 points, themselves, in the third and fourth quarters. but it was enough to defeat a Knicks team that couldn’t stop the Bucks 7-foot center, Andrew Bogut, who hit 12 of 15 shots on his way to 24 points and 20 rebounds as David Lee, undersized at 6’9″ proved no match for the bigger, stronger, and very skilled Australian native.

The fun part of the evening took place during the pre-game activities, as the great old Knicks waxed nostalgic about their experiences in this building, proudly wearing the Knicks uniform. All of the players, which also included benchplayers Cazzie Russell, Donnie May, Bill Hosket, Mike Riordan, and Johnny Warren were having an easy time remembering the famous Willis Reed walk through the tunnel of Game 7 of the 1970 Championship Series, as the Lakers and Knicks were taking their pre-game warmups.

Let Reed himself tell the story.

“It was a hell of a predicament to be in. You’re going to try to play Wilt Chamberlain, who’s the greatest offensive big man to ever play the game, only guy to average 50 points, only ever to score 100 points in a game … and I’ve got to try to do it on one leg,” Reed recalled. “This is not the way you want to be playing a championship game. But it worked out.”

It sure did. Reed shook off a leg injury to make two jumpers to start the game, and the Knicks went out to beat the Lakers to win the title.

Reed made the same walk through that tunnel onto the Madison Square Garden floor again Monday at halftime tonight. The tremendous ovations he, along with his old teammates received were sounds the new Knicks could only dream of getting someday.

The players and members of the families of those who had died walked out on a red carpet — Reed was last, of course — in jackets with their numbers on the sleeves and posed for pictures in front of the NBA championship trophy the core of that team won twice.

“The memories abound and astound,” Hall of Fame guard and current TV analyst Walt Frazier said in addressing the crowd.

Nine members of the team were back for a dinner Sunday night and the celebration Monday. It was one of the few get-togethers for a team that is fondly remembered in New York, even more so now since the Knicks haven’t won another since 1973.

“Across the court, you had Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman wanting to be there because they wanted to see the games, and you had a few other people wanting to be there because they wanted to be seen being there,” Bill Bradley said. “Then you knew that there was something going on here.”

The Knicks thought they had a championship team after they were eliminated by the Boston Celtics in 1969, especially since they’d have a full season with forward Dave DeBusschere, acquired the season before. They seemed right early on, rolling to a 23-1 start that is the best ever for a team before its second loss.

But it didn’t look good in the series against the powerful Lakers after Reed, the MVP of the league, went down with an injured hip and thigh early in Game 5. The Knicks rallied from a halftime deficit — being 40 years later, there’s a difference in memory of what it was. Reed said nearly 20 points, Bradley guessed about 10. It was actually 13 — to win the game before dropping Game 6 without Reed.

His status was unknown before Game 7, though Reed said he knew he would try to play. Reserve Russell, who was kneed in Game 6 and didn’t come out with his teammates before the finale while getting treatment, remembers the roar of the Garden crowd when he came out, then a groan when the fans realized he wasn’t Reed.

“He’s not who we’re looking for,” Russell said. “We’re looking for the Captain.”

Reed eventually made it out, and the Knicks won big behind Frazier’s 36 points and 19 assists. Bradley recalled the game as an “iconic moment in American sports and one of the one or two biggest moments in New York sports history.”

Frazier recalled looking toward the other end of the court after Reed’s entrance and seeing Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor and Jerry West “mesmerized by his presence.”

“I say to myself, ‘We got these guys,'” Frazier said. “I started to believe I could do anything and almost did.”

Reed said he’s often asked about that night by fans, and hopes he and his teammates will be able to talk about old memories again soon.

“I’m hoping all of us will still be around when we get to 50,” he said.

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