Europe 1 with AFP 00:24, March 22, 2023

The NBA is in mourning. Willis Reed, former New York Knicks player between 1964 and 1974, has died at the age of 80. The one who was nicknamed the "Captain", is considered one of the greatest players passed by the New York franchise. He was voted the best player in the NBA during the 1969-1970 season.

Former Willis Reed, a two-time NBA champion with the New York Knicks, has died at the age of 80, the professional basketball league alumni association and his long-time club announced Tuesday. His former teammate, Bill Bradley, told The New York Times that the Louisiana native, where he retired, was suffering from heart problems.

Our Captain.

— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) March 21, 2023

"The Knicks are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our dear 'Captain,'" the franchise wrote on its Twitter account. "We will always be keen to stick to the standards he leaves behind. The unparalleled leadership, sacrifice and work ethic that have made him a champion among champions." Willis Reed remains to this day the emblem of the great hours of New York professional basketball, which date back more than half a century and have never been approached since.

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NBA Most Valuable Player...

This rough 2.08m pivot, raised in the segregationist South, was the soul of the Knicks champions in 1970 and 1973, who shone by their defense unmatched in the league at the time. With limited relaxation but a sense of rebounding and placement well above average, "The Captain", one of his nicknames, was also a threat in attack, thanks to a rich technical register. Of his career, undermined by injuries, many will have especially remembered his performance of the seventh decisive game of the 1970 finals against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Injured in the left leg in the fifth game, absent in the sixth, Willis Reed made a surprise return in the final game of the series, after receiving three injections of anti-inflammatories. He scored the Knicks' first two baskets, his only points of the game, and gave his team the momentum they needed to win and win the first trophy in their history. He was voted NBA Most Valuable Player for the 1969–70 season and twice Finals MVP.