1966-67: rare footage of Willis Reed fighting entire Lakers bench (VIDEO)


willis-reed-fightEarly in the 1966-67 season, the NY Knicks were playing the LA Lakers, and an incident that occurred on that night was forever written in NBA history.

In short, the story is about the NY Knicks center Willis Reed, who got into a fight with the entire bench of the LA Lakers, throwing punches left and right.

Brian Cronin from KnickerBlogger wrote this in 2011:

During the third quarter, a Knick was shooting two foul shots. After the second shot went up, naturally, forward/center Rudy LaRusso and Reed began jockeying for position and Reed felt that LaRusso hit him with one elbow too many, so after LaRusso turned to head up court, Reed tangled up with him a bit. LaRusso responded by throwing a haymaker at Reed. The problem for Reed was that this was taking place directly in front of the Lakers’ bench, so quickly a bunch of Lakers race on to the court.

When Reed turned to respond to LaRusso’s missed haymaker, Laker center Darren Imhoff grabbed Reed from behind, ostensibly to break up the fight. Well, LaRusso took this opportunity to tag Reed with a punch. This enraged Reed. He slugged Imhoff, dropping the big man to the ground. He then chased LaRusso to the Lakers bench and got in two mighty shots in LaRusso’s face. At this point, Laker rookie forward John Block ran up, also ostensibly to play peacemaker. Well, Reed responded with a left hook that broke Block’s nose.

Imhoff came up again and Reed punched him in the eye, sending a bleeding Imhoff into a bunch of Lakers. By this time, Reed’s Knick teammates had arrived, as well, and it was a full-fledged brawl. Reed caught LaRusso one more time, knocking him to the ground. Reed was also throwing any other Laker who came at him to the ground, including Laker center Hank Finkel.

Both Reed and LaRusso were ejected, and were each fined $50. Head of the NBA referees Dolph Schayes debated suspending Reed, but luckily for Reed, the Knicks had footage of the encounter and it was clear that LaRusso had started it, so Reed was cleared.

Rare footage of that fight was published online, and you can watch it below:

 

Harvey Araton, a sports reporter and columnist for The New York Times, tweeted the following, after the video was released:

When Willis asked teammates why they didn’t help out as he was tearing apart the Lakers, pre-PhD Dick Barnett replied, “man, you was winning.”

Reed gave 10 years to the NY team, got elected to All-Star games 7 times, won 2 NBA titles and got inducted into the Hall of Fame. He averaged 18.7 ppg and 12.9 rpg in 35.5 mpg, appearing in 650 career NBA games.

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