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Willis Reed believes former teammate Phil Jackson will restore Knicks' glory

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. Credit: AP, 2011

WEST POINT, N.Y. - Willis Reed never thought he'd see his old friend and teammate Phil Jackson back with the Knicks, but he's thrilled that he is and believes he will turn around the franchise.

"The one thing I believe is that if anybody can change the fate of the New York Knicks I think Phil will do it," Reed said while the Knicks practiced at the U.S. Military Academy Wednesday. "He's had a remarkable career as a basketball coach and what he's been able to do and what he did in Chicago and L.A."

Reed, who attended Knicks practice as a guest of Jackson's and spent the day with the team, said he believes Jackson and coach Derek Fisher are a good combination. Reed believes Fisher will be a good coach.

The legendary Knick, forever known as "The Captain," also had nothing but praise for Carmelo Anthony. Reed said he would have been "upset" and "surprised" if Anthony left the Knicks in free agency over the summer.

"I think he has been a great Knick," Reed said. "He's a great offensive player. I love watching him play, score, I know that he can do a lot more and I think he will do more. I think this is going to be his team, it is his team and he wanted to do the thing he set out to do here and that's win a championship."

Anthony had nothing but superlatives for Reed as well.

"Just his presence here means a lot because I know what he was able to accomplish here, I know all the things and the work that he put in as a New York Knick," Anthony said. "He is the heart of the New York Knick organization for what he was able to do back then."

Reed, the starting center on the Knicks' only two championship teams, is confident they will be a playoff team, and said they will be even better next season because they will have the money over the summer to add a significant free agent.

"I really believe they have enough talent," Reed said. "I think they have to play hard and play defense. I think they're going to play hard and they'll play defense and they'll be unselfish. I really believe if everybody stays healthy, I think they'll make it with the players they got now."

Reed said Jackson soaked up everything he learned from Knicks coach Red Holzman and marveled at him winning an NBA-record 11 titles as a head coach.

"He's a great basketball ambassador," Reed said. "He's done something that nobody else has ever done and I don't think nobody else will ever do again. And I'm glad to know that he and I were teammates and friends."

New York Sports