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NBA notes: Knicks honor 1970 NBA title team

Knicks fans might have thought everything was going to be OK when Willis Reed came out of the tunnel for Game 7 of the 1970 NBA finals.

Reed had something entirely different on his mind.

"It's a hell of a predicament to be in. You're going to try to play Wilt Chamberlain, who's the greatest offensive big man to ever play the game, only guy to average 50 points, only ever to score 100 points in a game ... and I've got to try to do it on one leg," Reed recalled Monday night. "This is not the way you want to be playing a championship game. But it worked out."

It sure did. Reed shook off a leg injury to make two jumpers to start the game, and the Knicks went out to beat the Los Angeles Lakers to win the title. Reed was to make the walk onto the Madison Square Garden floor again Monday when the Knicks celebrated the 40th anniversary of their first championship team at halftime of their game against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Nine members of the team were back for a dinner Sunday night and the celebration Monday. It was one of the few get-togethers for a team that is fondly remembered in New York, even more so now since the Knicks haven't won another since 1973.

"Across the court, you had Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman wanting to be there because they wanted to see the games, and you had a few other people wanting to be there because they wanted to be seen being there," Bill Bradley said. "Then you knew that there was something going on here."

The Knicks thought they had a championship team after they were eliminated by the Boston Celtics in 1969, especially since they'd have a full season with forward Dave DeBusschere, acquired the season before. They seemed right early on, rolling to a 23-1 start that is the best ever for a team before its second loss.

But it didn't look good in the series against the powerful Lakers after Reed, the MVP of the league, went down with an injured hip and thigh early in Game 5. The Knicks rallied from a halftime deficit — being 40 years later, there's a difference in memory of what it was. Reed said nearly 20 points, Bradley guessed about 10. It was actually 13 — to win the game before dropping Game 6 without Reed.

His status was unknown before Game 7, though Reed said he knew he would try to play. Reserve Cazzie Russell, who was kneed in Game 6 and didn't come out with his teammates before the finale while getting treatment, remembers the roar of the Garden crowd when he came out, then a groan when the fans realized he wasn't Reed.

"He's not who we're looking for," Russell said. "We're looking for the Captain."

Reed eventually made it out, and the Knicks won big behind Walt Frazier's 36 points and 19 assists. Bradley recalled the game as an "iconic moment in American sports and one of the one or two biggest moments in New York sports history."

Reed said he's often asked about that night by fans, and hopes he and his teammates will be able to talk about old memories again soon.

"I'm hoping all of us will still be around when we get to 50," he said.

CAVS AND ILGAUSKAS BACK TOGETHER? An official within the league tells The Associated Press the NBA has not threatened to stop a potential reunion between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

The Cavaliers traded their longtime center to Washington last week in the three-team deal that brought Antawn Jamison to Cleveland. The Wizards may decide to buy out Ilgauskas, allowing him to become a free agent.

TIMBERWOLVES SLASH TICKET PRICES: The struggling Minnesota Timberwolves don't want to lose any more support. During the month of March, the Wolves will cut their 2010-11 season ticket prices by up to 50 percent in the arena's lower level.

President of basketball operations David Kahn also wrote a letter to fans, seeking their support. The team printed it as part of a full-page ad on the back of the sports section in Monday's Star Tribune newspaper.

The Wolves have lost six straight games to fall to 13-44, the second-worst record in the NBA.

HOWARD STRIANS KNEE: Wizards forward Josh Howard has strained his left knee in a game against the Chicago Bulls and won't return. Howard, acquired from Dallas on Feb. 13 in a seven-player trade, was playing in his fourth game with Washington.

PARKER DAY-TO-DAY: Spurs guard Tony Parker has a mild strain of his left hip flexor and is listed as day-to-day. Team physicians made the diagnosis Monday after an MRI. Parker missed Sunday night's 109-101 overtime loss at Detroit after scoring just two points on 1-of-9 shooting Friday night at Philadelphia.

IVERSON ATTENDING TO DAUGHTER: Philadelphia 76ers guard Allen Iverson has left the team and is out indefinitely to spend time with his ill daughter. Iverson will miss at least the remaining three games of Philadelphia's road trip. Iverson missed five games and the All-Star game to be with his family when the health issue surfaced earlier this month. Iverson has not disclosed what is ailing his 4-year-old daughter, Messiah.

Sixers president Ed Stefanski says it was in the best interest of the team and Iverson to allow him time with his family to deal with a "very serious issue."