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Willis Reed

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By now, you probably have a clear image of Willis Reed walking out of the Madison Square Garden tunnel before tipoff of 1970′s Game 7 of the NBA Finals against the Lakers. It’s been replayed more times than almost any other singular moment in NBA history.

The one footage of Willis Reed you likely don’t have engraved in your head is that of him single handedly trying to take on the entire 1966 Lakers squad on his own. That’s because nobody had footage of it… until now.

Via Deadspin:

Reed and Lakers power forward Rudy LaRusso had been scrapping all game, but things finally reached a tipping point in the third quarter. The two lined up next to each other on the foul line, and while jockeying for position on the ensuing free throw, LaRusso claims Reed threw an elbow at his head. LaRusso responded to this provocation with an attempted haymaker, and all hell broke loose. Reed and LaRusso found themselves in front of the Lakers bench, which sprung onto the court in LaRusso’s defense.

And here’s an account of the fight by New York Times’ Dave Anderson

In the confusion Reed flattened [Darrell] Imhoff, a 6-foot-10-inch, 220-pound center, with a punch over the left eye. [John] Block, a 6-9, 210-pound rookie center, suffered a bloody nose, which turned out to have been fractured. Imhoff, holding a bloodied towel to his face, lay sprawled in front of the Laker bench for several minutes while the police restored order among a few of the 15,755 spectators who had run onto the court for a ringside view. Imhoff needed one stitch to close a cut on his left eyelid. LaRusso, who is 6-8 and weighs 225, later admitted that “Reed hit me a couple good ones.” Both were ejected from the game.

Willis Reed was not suspended and fined $50 by the league.

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Image

After 16 NBA Championships and 31 Western Conference Titles, the Lakers have been one of the most storied and successful franchises in NBA history. From the eras of West, Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, and Kobe, there have been countless record-breaking performances and memorable games that have added to Lakers glory. Let’s take a look back at some notable moments for the purple and gold in this off-season version of “A Blast from the Past,” with some of the best Laker-memories from June, over their 66-year history.

June 2, 1985

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar became the NBA’s all-time leading playoff scorer when he exceeded Jerry West’s previous record of 4,457 playoff points in Game 3 of the NBA Finals against the Celtics. Abdul-Jabbar finished his career with 5,762 playoff points, but was eventually surpassed by Michael Jordan’s 5,987.

June 9, 1985

At 38 years old, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar became the oldest player ever voted NBA Finals MVP, after the Lakers defeated the Celtics in six games to secure the title.

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

June 14, 2009

Phil Jackson won his 10th NBA championship as a head coach when the Lakers beat the Orlando Magic in five games in the NBA Finals. Jackson passed Red Auerbach for most-ever coaching titles in NBA history. He would go on to win one more NBA title as a head coach in 2010, before retiring from coaching in 2011.

June 15, 2001

With their Game 5 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA Finals, the Lakers solidified themselves as the most dominating playoff team in NBA history. Los Angeles set NBA records, which still stand today, for best playoff record (15-1) and highest playoff winning percentage (.937).

June 19, 2000

Shaquille O’Neal became the third player in NBA history to sweep MVP honors during a season when he was named the unanimous MVP of the 2000 NBA Finals. O’Neal also captured the All-Star Game MVP award before being named the NBA MVP at the end of the regular season. O’Neal joined Willis Reed and Michael Jordan as the only three players in history to capture the NBA’s version of the triple crown.

June 25, 1979

The Lakers selected Magic Johnson from Michigan State University with the first overall pick in the NBA draft. The sophomore Johnson became the first underclassman selected with the top pick in NBA history. Johnson won both the NBA title and Finals MVP award in his rookie season with the Lakers, making him the first-ever rookie to do so.

June 29, 1982

The Lakers traded Don Ford and Chad Kinch to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for the number one overall pick in the NBA Draft. With the pick, Los Angeles selected James Worthy of the University of North Carolina Tar Heels at the Felt Forum at Madison Square Garden. Worthy spent his entire career with the Lakers and won three NBA championships during his 12 seasons in Los Angeles.

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