U.S. Senator and former NBA star Bill Bradley is remembering his beloved teammate, Willis Reed, following the Knicks legend’s tragic passing this week … saying he’ll always remember “The Captain” as “a man with great dignity and strength.”
Bradley — who served as a United States Senator of New Jersey (1979 to 1997) after retiring from the NBA — joined Babcock on the “TMZ Sports” TV show (airs weeknights on FS1) where he talked about his teammate who remained his friend long after their playing days were over.
Of course, Reed and Bradley won two titles together (’70 & ’73) during their stellar careers in The Big Apple … but Bill believes a big reason why the Knicks took home their first title in 1970 was because Reed shocked everyone and suited up for Game 7, despite being injured.
Before Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals, it was unknown if Willis Reed would play due to a right thigh injury. He then came out of the tunnel to help lead the Knicks to their 1st ever NBA Championship! #TeamDays | @nyknicks pic.twitter.com/G0dIplhtli
— NBA TV (@NBATV) August 1, 2018
“He was a tremendous leader,” Bradley said. “And, you don’t always have players who so overtly put their whole career on the line for their teammates, which is what he did in 1970.”
“We won the championship and it was partly inspired by Willis’ courage and dedication to his team,” Bradley said. “You really just felt everything elevate in The Garden.”
Of course, Bradley didn’t only star on the pro level … he was one of the greatest college basketball players ever.
His alma mater, Princeton, a #15-seed, will face #6-seed Creighton in the Sweet 16 on Friday … after the team pulled off two upset wins over Arizona and Missouri last week.
Bradley — an AP College Player of the Year who also won Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA tourney in 1965 — doesn’t believe the Cinderella run has to end here … he wholeheartedly believes the Tigers can win.
“They stand a great chance,” the 79-year-old said.
“They’re playing seemingly well. I like the team and, of course, I respect Mitch a lot and it’s great for the university.”
Now, the Senator isn’t guaranteeing Princeton’s going to the Final Four, but like he says … “anything is possible in sports.”
“That’s what makes it such a great thing,” Bradley said. “It’s not just the underdog but the reward for people who try to do things the right way.”