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JB Bickerstaff on Willis Reed: “He was more concerned with the common good than with himself”


Before the game between the Nets and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday, Cavs head coach JB Bickerstaff and Nets coach Jacque Vaughn celebrated the late Willis Reed, who tragically passed away at age 80 earlier that day. .

Neither head coach had a personal relationship with Reed, a two-time NBA champion dubbed one of the “50 Greatest Players in NBA History” after spending his entire playing career with the Knicks before taking over. head coaching and general manager positions with him then. New Jersey Networks.

“I didn’t have a relationship, but I have a respect for him,” said Bickerstaff, whose father, Bernie, became an assistant coach for the Capital Bullets during Reed’s final season before retiring. “There was a relationship, obviously, with my father being one of his teammates and there’s an admiration for all the things he did in this league, not just as a player but as an ambassador for the league.”

Bickerstaff said Reed’s impact in the NBA went beyond his skills on the basketball court. The Hall of Fame big man averaged 18.7 points, 12.9 rebounds and played in all but one season before the NBA began tracking blocks and steals statistics in the 1973-74 season. Reed was the 1964-65 Rookie of the Year, won All-Star MVP, Finals MVP, and league MVP all in the same season (1970) and was named to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team 2021-22 last year.

He helped deliver the Knicks their only two championships in franchise history in 1970 and 1973, but Bickerstaff said what stood out most about Reed was his selflessness.

“You just look at the guys that came before you, and you see how they treat people, how they respect the game, and he always seemed like a really genuine, kind person who was more concerned with the greater good than himself. , and I think as a leader he set the tone in that way,” the Cavs coach said. “Whatever was going on, it wasn’t going to be just because of him. He was going to be about the whole NBA and all the players, all his teammates, and that’s something I really admire.”

Vaughn also said that he did not have a personal relationship with Reed, but that he knew the local history: Reed was promoted to general manager and vice president of basketball operations for the New Jersey Nets from 1989 to 1996. When he became senior vice president, the Nets they made back-to-back trips to the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003.

And so my condolences to the family. The NBA, we have lost a giant in the game,” Vaughn said. “Legendary moment that he produced throughout his career, a winner; and it’s great to hear some of the things that have been said about him. You know, when you leave this earth, you want people to remember you for who you were, how you can contribute to society; and he was able to contribute in many good ways.”

Reed still holds several NBA records: most consecutive field goals made in a single NBA Finals game (11 – Game 1, 1970 NBA Finals); oldest player to record a triple-double (age 38 years and seven days); most free throws made in a single NBA Finals game without a miss (12); most rebounds in an NBA Finals series (140); and the most minutes played in a single NBA Finals game (46 minutes, 38 seconds).

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