Grambling hoops great Willis Reed dies at 80

Legendary Grambling basketball player Willis Reed passed away Tuesday at the age of 80. 

Reed was most known for his championship years with the New York Knicks.

Born in the small town of Hico, Louisiana, in Lincoln Parish, Reed went on to play his entire 10-year professional career with the Knicks after being drafted out of Grambling State in 1964. 

“The Grambling State University family is saddened by the loss of Willis Reed. He was a legend in his own right, and a close friend to my family,” said GSU President Rick Gallot.

During his time at Grambling, he led the Tigers to a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics men’s basketball championship in 1961, and three Southwestern Athletic Conference Championships. 

Reed averaged a remarkable 26.6 points per game and 21.3 rebounds per game his senior season. The 1961 championship stands alone as Grambling’s only national basketball title. 

A sign commemorating Reed’s No. 50 jersey for Grambling hangs in the rafters of the Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center in Grambling. His No. 19 for the Knicks was the first retired jersey in franchise history, Reed is a 1982 inductee of the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame. 

The man known as “The Captain” led the Knicks to three of their four NBA finals appearances. They would win it all in the ’70 and ’73 seasons.  Reed was a seven-time All-Star and the 1969-1970 MVP. 

The Knicks released a statement Tuesday afternoon regarding Reed’s death.

“As we mourn, we will always strive to uphold the standards he left behind … the unmatched leadership, sacrifice, and work ethic that personified him as a champion among champions,” the organization said in that statement.