Willis Reed and Walt ''Clyde'' Frazier during ''The 50 Greatest...

Willis Reed and Walt ''Clyde'' Frazier during ''The 50 Greatest Moments at Madison Square Garden'' screening at The Theater at Madison Square Garden. Credit: WireImage/James Devaney

MIAMI — Walt Frazier, while a legendary player, a Hall of Fame broadcaster, maybe more well known to a new generation of Knicks fans for his meticulous fashion, a collection of choreographed outfits which might seem outrageous on anyone else, but for him, it’s just Clyde.

But Wednesday, it wasn’t the same. It was just a little more than 24 hours before that he’d learned that his teammate, Willis Reed, had died. The two had joined forces to create the legends and ghosts that still echo through Madison Square Garden.

“Yeah, I’ve been meandering all day, just looking in bags,” Frazier said, sitting down with a handful of reporters and trying to keep from crying. “Took me so long to get dressed. I turned the TV off because every time I looked up there was Willis. I had to turn the phone off. Everybody’s calling. I’m happy to be at the game. Maybe that’ll give me three hours where I can just react.”

Frazier told stories, not just of the legendary Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals when Reed came out of the tunnel just before the start of the game, surprising even his closest teammates by making his way onto the court with a torn muscle in his thigh and then hitting the first two shots of the game — spurring the team to a title, with Frazier stepping up with a game for the ages, 36 points, 19 assists and seven rebounds. Mostly he spoke of their friendship.

“When I think of Willis, I think when I first came to New York,” Frazier said. “I got drafted, he was the guy that picked me up at the airport. He was an hour late. I was waiting. He took me out that night. Got me a date. We went to [Wilt Chamberlain’s nightclub in Harlem]. So it was a night I’ll never forget.

“it’s the personal things. We know about his exploits as a player, but as a person he was even better. You always had the rookie room with him, taking him under his wing. Even with me, he’d take me out. He’s a big guy on going out, wining and dining, taking me out, telling me about the nuances of the game early on — how he’s going to kick my butt if I didn’t guard Oscar [Robertson]. So, he kept us disciplined, man.”

The lessons took, and never more so than in that championship game.

"There was never a down time,” he said. “And I was just thinking that the Game 7 epitomizes a lot of things about Willis and New York, especially the fans. I was thinking just the fans helped a guy run who could barely walk. Willis Reed, when he came out of the locker room, he could barely walk, and their cheers and stuff got them running. 

“He was the catalyst for us, because we were a team that was doubtful we could win without him. So, when we saw him, we perked up like, 'We can do it.' And when I look at me, a neophyte, he helped me have the game of my career, my life, a Game 7 that no one has ever had, the greatest Game 7 of anybody.

"And I'll never forget, I saw Wilt; I saw [Elgin] Baylor and [Jerry] West. When Willis came on the court, they stopped doing what they were doing. They were so concerned. And I said to myself, 'Man, we got these guys.' And then he would come out and make his first two shots. The rest was history from there on, and that was Willis Reed, man. I don't know if anybody else would've played under those circumstances. People thought it was premeditated because when he came on the court, we were just as flabbergasted as everybody else.”

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