Reed stays home for Game 7
Superstitious NBA legend doesn't want to jinx Hornets

By Darnell Mayberry Modified: May 19, 2008 at 6:23 am •  Published: May 19, 2008
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Willis Reed is staying out of New Orleans Arena tonight.

Doesn't want to mess with the streak.

You know, that head-scratching statistic about home teams in these NBA Playoffs being 52-16, 22-2 in these conference semifinals.

Reed knows the Hornets are a card-carrying member of the exclusive undefeated-at-home-in-these-playoffs club — 6-0 entering tonight's Game 7 against San Antonio.

So the 65-year-old Knicks legend has chosen to save himself the trouble of making the 320-mile drive to New Orleans from his Ruston, La. home to root on his former club.

"I'm just going to stay home and watch it and hope their home luck continues,” said Reed, the Hall of Fame center and recently retired vice president of basketball operations for the Hornets.

"I don't want to be the reason they lose. You know how athletes are superstitious.”

An appearance by Reed might have been just what the Hornets needed.

Imagine Reed delivering the Hornets' pre-game speech. Imagine every eye glued to each movement Reed's 6-foot-9 frame makes. Imagine Reed locking eyes with a gimpy David West before explaining the importance of Game 7.

West, who reportedly had a pinched nerve in his back in Game 5, had the injury worsen in Game 6 when San Antonio forward Robert Horry set a back pick on him late in the Spurs' victory. West is scheduled to play tonight, but how effective he'll be is anyone's guess.

But who better to have West's ear shortly before tip-off than Reed? Who better to deliver some last words of wisdom to West than the living legend that epitomizes what Game 7 is all about?

And West would be all ears because, as a proud history buff, he knows Reed's story all-too well.

How Reed tore a muscle in his thigh early in Game 5 of the 1970 NBA Finals against the Lakers. How the injury forced Reed to miss Game 6 and watch the Lakers even the series at three apiece after a blowout in L.A. How Reed made an unforgettable comeback, striding onto the Garden floor before lifting New York to a 113-99 Game 7 victory and the Knicks' first NBA championship.

"I got lucky,” Reed modestly says now.

Reed would only go as far as calling longtime Hornets Equipment Manager David Jovanovic, affectionately referred to as "Big Shot,” to let the Hornets know he said good luck.

Reed could have dug deep and personally told West so much more about how he stepped up when it matters most.




Former Hornets vice president of basketball operations Willis Reed will be watching the team tonight from his home in Ruston, La. by NATE BILLINGS, THE OKLAHOMAN archive

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