Scattered Clouds 39° Good Morning
Scattered Clouds 39° Good Morning

Willis Reed, 70, rooting on his favorite team from home in Louisiana

Willis Reed receives the Sixth Annual National Civil

Willis Reed receives the Sixth Annual National Civil Rights Sports Legacy Award before the Memphis Grizzlies' game against the Chicago Bulls in Memphis, Tenn. Photo Credit: AP, 2011

Before Tyson Chandler hit the boards this week, the last time a Knicks player grabbed at least 20 rebounds in three consecutive games was Willis Reed more than four decades ago.

Not that Reed remembers it.

"Ohhhhh, no," Reed said yesterday by telephone. The former Knicks center said he was watching the Knicks-Pistons game on television Monday night when he heard his former teammate-turned-announcer Walt Frazier talking about Reed's three-game rebounding stretch in 1969.

That came as news to Reed, and it made him chuckle, too.

"I got a kick out of hearing them talk about it," Reed said, laughing. "Did I know it? If they hadn't been talking about it, I never would have known."

Rebounding might not be the most memorable of statistics in the basketball world, but you don't need to tell this former Knicks center just how important they are to a team's success.

Best known for being the NBA Finals MVP in 1970 and again in 1973 when the Knicks last won a championship, Reed averaged 12.9 rebounds during his 10-year career, all with the Knicks.

Reed, 70, retired after serving as the Nets' general manager for eight years and the Hornets' vice president of basketball operations from 2004-07. He said he subscribes to NBA League Pass at home in Ruston, La., and often watches the Knicks -- and now gets to finally openly root as a true fan. And he said he loves what Chandler has brought them, not only rebounding but as a team leader.

"He's a great team player, a great teammate," said Reed, who brought Chandler to New Orleans in a trade in 2006. "Seeing him every day, he's got a smile on his face, he talks to people and he's enthusiastic. He's the type of guy, if he's on the bench or not playing well, he's still enthusiastic for the others. And I think that rubs off on players because there's always going to be some guys who are never happy."

Chandler's three straight games with 20 rebounds ties a franchise record set four times, last by Reed during the Knicks' championship season of 1969-70. Reed said he's rooting hard for the Knicks to win the third title in franchise history, and he thinks this team has a chance.

"They've got maturity, they've got veterans, guys who played on championship teams and been in the league a long time," Reed said. He said he has particularly enjoyed watching Amar'e Stoudemire come back healthy and thinks Carmelo Anthony has a chance at being named the MVP this season.

"I've been waiting a long time, a long time," Reed said of another Knicks title. "When I talk to other guys from back then, I mean, I would have never thought .

"If somebody would have said to me the Knicks would not win another championship for another 40 years, you want to bet that? I would have bet a thousand dollars and I'm not a betting man."

Reed said he spends most of his time now at home, "doing a little fishing, doing a little hunting and doing whatever my wife tells me to." He said he hasn't been to the Garden in a while, but he doesn't feel like he's missing much.

"Hopefully I'll get there soon," he said, "but like I say, I can run around and do whatever I want to do all day, come in and turn on League Pass and I'm in Madison Square Garden."

And come Wednesday night when the Knicks play in Washington, Reed will be rooting for Chandler to grab 20 rebounds again and own the franchise record by himself.

Reed thinks it's possible. "Why not?"

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