Game 7. Arguably the two greatest words in professional sports.
In 1970, the New York Knicks were set to host the Los Angeles Lakers at the iconic Madison Square Garden in a winner-take-all Game 7 of the NBA Finals. This was the 10th time in 24 years that the NBA Finals were going to be decided by a Game 7. In all of the nine previous instances, the home team came out victorious.
The Knicks - the hosts in this case - had lost in all of their three previous NBA Finals appearances including twice in a Game 7. On the other hand, the Lakers were making their 13th appearance in the Finals but hadn't won in their previous seven appearances which included an 0-3 record in Game 7 of the NBA Finals
So, the history books favoured the hosts in the Knicks but they were possibly suiting up without their star center in Willis Reed, who was injured in Game 5 which forced him to miss Game 6.
However, the momentum swung back in their favour when Reed exited the tunnel to take the court just minutes before tip-off of Game 7.
In Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals, @WaltFrazier was inspired by Willis Reed's return and led the @nyknicks with 36 PTS and 19 AST to capture their first NBA championship.- NBA (@NBA) May 8, 2020
We're celebrating the 50-year anniversary of Game 7 tonight on @NBA at 8pm/et! #NBATogetherLive pic.twitter.com/QgoUMp7CCD
While Reed scored the first two baskets of the game and played a limited time of 27 minutes, Walt Frazier had one of the greatest Game 7 performances in the Finals to this date. Playing 44 minutes, he led the Knicks with 36 points, 19 assists, and seven rebounds.
Both Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain played the entire game. West finished with 28 points, six rebounds, and five assists while Chamberlain recorded a double-double 21 points and 24 rebounds along with four assists.
Watch the full game below:
This Game 7 victory helped the Knicks clinch the franchise's first-ever NBA Championship.
Both these teams would meet again in the Finals in 1972 and 1973. The Lakers clinched their first-ever championship in Los Angeles (sixth overall) with a 4-1 series victory in 1972 but the Knicks avenged that with a 4-1 win in 1973 for their second of two franchise championships.
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