The Knicks’ return to the Finals in 1973 essentially began the year before, after losing to the Lakers in the ’72 Finals.
“We all felt that we should have won that series,” Monroe said. “At that time, we made a vow among ourselves that we were going to get back to this point next year and win this.”
“We had a veteran team and we always talked championship from day one, coming into camp,” Frazier said. “Our captain, Willis Reed, was the catalyst for that. Always upbeat, very confident. So we felt that at that point, possibly yeah, this might be our year again. Maybe we could get back to the Finals and win it.”
Despite being comprised of personalities as diverse as New York itself — Clyde the flashy showman, Monroe the slick ball handler, Bradley the hard-working Rhodes scholar — the Knicks displayed great chemistry as a team because they were unselfish and single-minded in their collective goal of winning a championship.
“Our purpose was to win basketball games,” Lucas said. “Sometimes somebody would get 30 points, somebody else might get five. Another game, that guy who got five might get 25. And that guy [with 25] might only get seven. It didn’t make any difference to us.”
“There were no personality conflicts here,” Bradley said. “Everybody supported each other and we were committed to playing the best each of us could play. We all recognized that no one of us could be as good as all five of us together.”
“Once we started to play [as a team], with the ball moving freely around the perimeter, other teams had difficulty focusing on one guy,” Frazier said. “They couldn’t focus on Frazier or Monroe, Bradley might get off. Willis might get off. Anybody could score.”
Members of the 1973 Knicks championship team discuss the veteran makeup of both the Knicks and Lakers.
“We flew home [from Boston] that Sunday night and got up Monday, and flew to L.A.,” Reed said. “We had a film session that Tuesday in the hotel and went out, and played the game that night. We didn’t even have a practice.”
“I don’t think it bothered us,” Bradley said of the less than 48 hours between games. “We were so charged up by the win in Boston, it was almost like, ‘Bring ’em on!'”
“It’s not very hard getting prepared for the Finals after a series like that Boston series,” Monroe said. “If anything, it kind of got you up to be able to play the next series. You’re going in there with your feelings sky high because you’ve just done something that nobody else has done before — win the seventh game on Boston’s floor.”
“They spanked us the previous year, four to one,” Frazier said. “So we knew they were pretty much the same team. We knew what we had to do. We played our game. Defense is our best offense. And if we moved the ball around fluidly, we’d have a chance to win.”