Grambling State to retire Willis Reed's number, name court after Louisiana legend

Willis Reed, whose road to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame included an NAIA national championship at Grambling State, will have his No. 50 jersey retired at Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center.

The ceremony will take place Saturday when the Tigers (4-12, 2-2 Southwestern Athletic Conference) take on Southern (9-7, 4-0). Game time is 5:30 p.m.

Along with Reed's jersey retirement, Grambling will name its basketball court "Willis Reed Court" at halftime, and the tunnel leading to the court will also be named after him.

Reed was born in Dubach, Louisiana and grew up on a farm in Bernice. He played at West Side High School in Lillie.

Here's three things to know about Reed heading into his jersey retirement:

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Reed's dominance at Grambling

Reed, 79, played four seasons at Grambling from 1960-64, leading the Tigers to SWAC championships in 1963 and 1964.

A two-time All-American, he helped Grambling win the NAIA national title as a freshman in 1961 and finish third in 1963.

The 6-foot-10, 240 pound Reed averaged 26.6 points and 21.3 rebounds as a senior and 18.7 points and 15.2 rebounds for his career.

Feb. 7, 1970; New York, NY, USA; FILE PHOTO; New York Knicks center Willis Reed (19) shoots over Cincinnati Royals center Connie Dierking (24) at Madison Square Garden.

The Knicks era

Reed was the No. 10 pick in the 1964 NBA Draft by the New York Knicks, where he spent his entire 10-season career. He was named Rookie of the Year in 1965, league MVP in 1970 and was an all-star his first seven seasons.

The Knicks won the NBA championship in 1970 and 1973, and Reed was Finals MVP both times.

The championship in 1970 might go down as Reed's most memorable, as the Knicks defeated the Los Angeles Lakers led by Jerry West, Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain in a seven-game series that saw Reed score fewer than 20 points once.

The Knicks retired Reed's No. 19, a first in team history in 1976. Reed was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1981.

Former New York Knicks player and Louisiana Sports Hall of Famer Willis Reed produced an iconic moment for the NBA.

Coaching career

Reed was named coach of the Knicks for the 1977-78 and left after 14 games the next season. He returned as a volunteer coach at St. John’s in 1979-80 and a year later was named coach at Creighton University for a four seasons. He returned to the NBA as an assistant with the Atlanta Hawks (1985-87) and Sacramento Kings (1987-88).

He took over for Bob MacKinnon asinterim coach of the struggling New Jersey Nets in 1988. After a 26-56 record the next season, he stepped down to become the ' general manager.

Reed was able to revitalize the Nets and help them return to a playoff team. In 1996, Reed became senior vice president of basketball operations and the Nets made the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003.

He returned to Louisiana as vice president of basketball operations for the New Orleans Hornets and retired after three seasons

This article originally appeared on Monroe News-Star: Grambling to retire Willis Reed's jersey, name court after Louisiana legend