Willis Reed’s Landmark 1970 NBA Finals Warm-up Jacket Up for Auction
The warm-up jacket worn by Basketball Hall of Famer Willis Reed the day he played through a torn thigh muscle to help the New York Knicks clinch their first NBA championship in 1970 will be auctioned for the first time Monday.
Reed wore the short-sleeved white jacket with orange detailing when warming up before the game, during the game when not playing on the field, and during locker room celebrations after the Knicks won Game 7 of the NBA Finals in 1970.
The Knicks captain had previously been named Most Valuable Player for the 1969-70 season and the 1970 All-Star Game, but it was unclear if he would be willing to help the New York Knicks in the memorable game against the Los Angeles Lakers after tearing a thigh muscle in Game 5 and being forced to sit out Game 6.
Reed – who later recalled that he didn’t want to “look at himself 20 years later and say, ‘I wish I had tried to play,'” limped onto the pitch during warm-ups before the final game, causing the Madison Square Garden audience to erupt in cheers, which has since become one of the most memorable moments in basketball history.
Despite his injury, Reed scored two jumps and encouraged his teammates on the field to help the Knicks beat the Lakers 113-99.
The jacket was matched to a photo from Reed’s post-game interview with late sportscaster Howard Cosell which took place in the locker room immediately after the game.
It’s from a car dealership employee who likely swapped a car for the jacket with an employee at Madison Square Garden, according to Gray Flannel Auctions, which will be accepting bids from $10,000 when the auction opens. today.
The sports memorabilia market is heating up as the economy continues to recover from coronavirus-triggered recessions. Items that have been worn or used in memorable and iconic moments in sports history tend to fetch the highest prices at auction. Earlier this month, the soccer jersey allegedly worn by Diego Maradona when he scored his infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal sold for $9.3million and set a new memorabilia record most expensive sportsman to be sold at auction. The golf clubs Tiger Woods used to win four Masters championships in a row sold for $5.16 million last month, though Woods once claimed they weren’t the same clubs he used to win titles in 2000 and 2001.
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