Willis Reed

Willis Reed (1942-2023)

Teams coached: New Jersey Nets, Creighton Bluejays, New York Knicks
Creighton record: 52-65 (.444)
Overall record^: 52-65 (.444)

Career Accomplishments:

  • NCAA National Championships:  0
  • NCAA Tournament Appearances:  0
  • NIT Championships:  0
  • NIT Appearances:  1  (1984)


  • Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (inducted 1982 as a player)
  • National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame (inducted 2006 as a player)

Coaching Career (head coach, unless noted):

1988-1989 New Jersey Nets
1985-1987 Atlanta Hawks (asst)
1981-1985 Creighton
19??-19?? St. John’s (volunteer asst)
1977-1978 New York Knicks

Willis Reed Facts

  • Willis Reed, Jr,
  • Born June 25, 1942
  • Died March 21, 2023
  • Hometown: Bernice, Louisiana
  • Alma Mater: Grambling State University (BA, 1964)
  • Grew up on a farm in Bernice, LA and played basketball at West Side HS in Lillie, LA
  • Went on to play for head coach Fred Hobdy at Grambling; helped the Tigers win three SWAC titles and the 1961 NAIA title
    • Later part of the inaugural 2006 class of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame (as a player)
  • Selected 8th overall in the 1964 NBA Draft by the New York Knicks, playing there for his whole career (1964-74)
    • Was a 2x NBA Champion (1970 and 1973), 2x Finals MVP, 7x All-Star (was All-Star Game MVP in 1970), 5x All-NBA (1x First- and 4x Second-Team) and was named Rookie of the Year in 1965
    • Named to the NBA 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996 and had his number #19 retired by the Knicks
    • Played for head coaches Eddie Donovan, Harry Gallatin, Dick McGuire and Red Holzman
    • Inducted as a player into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1982
  • Took over as the head coach of the Knicks in 1977, going 43-39 and reaching the Conference Semifinals
    • Started the next season 6-8 before leaving his role as head coach; finished 51-51 overall (including Playoffs)
  • Spent time as a volunteer assistant under Lou Carnesecca at St. John’s in the late 1970s
  • Was the head coach at Creighton for four seasons, compiling a 52-65 record during that time
    • Improved from 7 and 8 wins in his first two seasons to 17 and 20 in his final two seasons
    • His 1983-84 Bluejays team went 17-14 and reached the NIT
    • Among the players he recruited and coached was eventual 3rd overall pick Benoit Benjamin
  • Returned to NBA coaching in 1985, spending the next two years assisting Mike Fratello with the Atlanta Hawks
  • Took over as interim head coach of the New Jersey Nets for the last 28 games of the 1987-88 season, going 7-21
    • Served as head coach for the following season, going 26-56 overall and missing the Playoffs
  • Moved to the front office in New Jersey in 1989; moved up to general manager in 1993, building a playoff contending team
    • Became on the Senior VP of Basketball Operations in 1996, working in that role for seven seasons
  • Returned to the Knicks in 2003 to work in the front office then became VP of Basketball Operations for the Hornets in 2004
    • Retired in 2007 after three seasons in New Orleans and nearly 50 years in professional and collegiate basketball
  • Reed passed away in March 2023 at the age of 80

Willis Reed Coaching Tree

  • coming soon


^ overall record includes head coaching positions at the NCAA Division I level only