15. Willis Reed Hobbles Out of the MSG Tunnel
Game: Game 7 NBA Finals, Lakers @ Knicks
Watch it here
With Bill Russell retiring before the start of the 1969-70 season, would-be contenders like Willis Reed and Clyde Frazier's Knicks were suddenly put on alert. They faced the Lakers in the Finals, whose Big Three of Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, and Jerry West were on the hunt for their first title after being repeatedly shut out by Russell's Celtics.
The Knicks would take a 3-2 series lead, but lost Reed during Game 5 to a torn leg muscle after tripping over Chamberlain's leg on a dribble. The Knicks went on to win Game 5, but with Reed seemingly out for the rest of the series, hopes of closing out the Lakers appeared to be dashed as well. Reed didn't suit up for Game 6, and the Knicks lost by 22 in Los Angeles.
Before Game 7 at MSG, however, Reed stepped onto the floor during warm-ups, and started the game. With his torn leg muscle, he scored two early baskets to send the Garden crowd into a frenzy, paving the way for Frazier to drop a 36-19-7 line on the Lakers. Inspired by Reed, the Knicks would go on to win Game 7 and win their first NBA title.