The Open Man

“Hit the open man. Always look for the open man. And play defense.”
NBA Hall of Famer, Walt Frazier

The 1969-70 New York Knicks started 23-1 and finished the regular season with the League’s best record: 60-22. The Knicks defeated the Baltimore Bullets 4 games to 3 in a very exciting first round playoff series. New York then advanced to the Championship Round by defeating rookie Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and the Milwaukee Bucks 4 games to 1. The first four games of the Championship Series with the Los Angeles Lakers were split. The Knicks staged a great comeback to win game 5 after Willis Reed was injured. And the Knicks won their first ever Championship by winning Game 7 when a hobbling Willis Reed hit his first two shots. Walt Frazier then took over – 36 points, 19 assists, and 5 steals.

With the NBA season getting under way, I decided to write about my all-time favorite basketball team: the 1969-70 World Champion New York Knicks. Some guys come to score their points. Other guys come to win. My fondness for this team was because of how unselfish and team oriented these players were. Willis Reed, Dave DeBusschere, and Walt Frazier were great players; Dick Barnett, Bill Bradley, and Cazzie Russell were good players; and the Knicks Coach Red Holzman stressed defense and ball movement. The end result was a team that was greater than the sum of its parts. A championship that season and another one three years later. Each player brought something special to the table. Having talent is not enough. Teamwork is the essence of life, the spirit of cooperation, and the Knicks had it.

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