On May 8th in 1970, the New York Knicks clinched their first NBA championship in franchise history.
They defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 113-99 in Game 7 at the Madison Square Garden behind a scintillating performance by Walt Frazier. In what was one of the most impressive Finals’ Game 7 displays in NBA history, the guard finished with 36 points (12-17 FGs; 12-12 FTs), 19 assists, and seven rebounds in 44 minutes of action.
Although Frazier carried the burden in the pivotal Game 7, for the series, he was only the fourth-highest scorer on the Knicks with an average of 17.7 points per game. Ahead of him were – center Willis Reed (23.0 points in 6 games), Dave DeBusschere (19.0 points in 7 games), and Dick Barnett (18.6 points in 7 games).
The first five games of this competitive series had an average winning margin of six points including an overtime thriller in Game 3.
In Game 5, however, Reed went down with an injury and was forced to sit out most of the game after playing just eight minutes but the Knicks didn’t cave. They rallied behind Frazier’s 21-point, 12-assist performance as five other Knicks scored in double figures to win 107-100 at MSG despite missing their star player.
After missing Game 6, Reed, just prior to the tip-off of Game 7, exited the tunnel to a roar from the crowd. He played a limited time of 27 minutes but more importantly, he began the game by scoring its first two baskets and that was all the inspirations the Knicks needed.
The Knicks would need only those four points from Reed as Frazier carried them to their first of two championships in the span of three years.
Notable events on May 8th
- In 1988, Michael Jordan scores 226 points in a first-round matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers – the most in a 5-game playoff series. He beat out the previous record of 213 points set by Bernard King in 1984.
- In 1988, the Los Angeles Lakers held the Utah Jazz to just eight first-quarter points in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals. The Lakers eventually won the game 110-91 while the Jazz’s eight first-quarter points is a record-low for first-quarter points scored in an NBA Playoff game.
- In 1999, Karl Malone (3,712 points), of the Utah Jazz, passed Magic Johnson (3,701) for the sixth position all-time in playoff scoring.
Game-winning buzzer-beater on May 8th
Notable playoff eliminations from May 8th
- In 2019, the Milwaukee Bucks eliminated the Boston Celtics with a 116-91 Game 5 win in the Conference Semifinals series, thus, making their eighth Conference Finals appearance in franchise history and the first since 2001.
- In 2011, the Dallas Mavericks, the eventual champions, swept the Los Angeles Lakers, the reigning champions, in the Western Conference Semifinals.
- In 1988, the Michael-Jordan led Chicago Bulls defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 3-2 in the first round of the playoffs. This was the first playoff series victory of Jordan’s career after being swept in two of three previous years.
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