It is one of the most memorable moments in NBA history, for better or worse. In Game 7 of the 1970 Finals, Willis Reed was expected to miss the game with a torn thigh muscle. In pre-game warmups, Reed walked down the tunnel and joined his teammates in the starting lineup. That Reed didn't actually have that great of a game is irrelevant in the narrative. That moment still stands out as a defining moment in the history of the National Basketball Association. That tunnel is iconic for the image it provided.
And it's gone. From the New York Post:
The spot where the Knicks and Rangers have emerged from is history, replaced by prime-time center-court seats.via Stoudemire plans Knicks workouts in Florida - NYPOST.com.
The Knicks instead will enter the court from the corner, and Dolan will try to create a new tradition, as the players have to pass through the plush Delta Sky360Club, frequented only by elite season-ticket holders. Patrons there can watch the Knicks or Rangers take the stage through windows.
However, the Reed tunnel is already a goner, as the new seats -- Yankees-blue in color -- are in place, encased in plastic wrap.
Not only is it gone, but instead the players will walk through an area encased by glass where on the other side the highest of the sports high class sip martinis. Because when you're getting psyched for a game, you really want to be eyeball-to-eyeball with a CEO's six-year-old daughter eating chicken tenders while her dad sips Glenlivet.
In reality, the information age has diminished the value of the memory. In reality, Rajon Rondo's dislocated shoulder and subsequent play against the Heat this past year was actually more impressive from an "overcoming injury" standpoint. But that's the deal with legends. Sometimes they extend past their truths and that's what makes them legends. And now the guys in the cheap seats can't point to a tunnel and tell their kids that's where Willis Reed ran out.
Oh, well. Maybe the Knicks will use the extra money from the renovations to cover the $300 million in losses from the rest of the league and we can end the lockout. Right?
OK, probably not.