Walt "Clyde" Frazier was already a hero in New York City for his gutsy yet stylish play and his lightning-quick hands on defense.
But prior to the 1970 NBA Finals he had not yet become a legend.
In Game 5 of a star-studded veteran affair, in a series featuring the offense-savvy L.A. Lakers and their stars Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor, the Knicks looked to be in control of the series.
Knicks' captain and center Willis Reed tore a hamstring muscle just eight minutes into the contest, and saw his team's hopes for winning in his absence sink.
Unable to play in Game 6, Reed's worst fears came true as a vengeful Chamberlain scored 45 points to lead his team to an easy 136-113 win.
Back in New York for Game 7, everyone wondered whether Willis Reed would suit up. Will Willis play? were the thoughts and chants streaming throughout Madison Square Garden and the city of New York.
Suddenly, just minutes before the game a hobbled but upright Reed walked out onto the court. The Garden exploded in a frenzy.
Reed started the contest, scoring the first two buckets of the game, but he knew someone would have to step up in a huge way for the Knicks to pull this one out.
That someone was Walt Frazier.
Like a human blind-spot, Frazier snuck up unseen by the Lakers' guards and then picked their pockets clean, finishing with a quick layup on the other end.
He cleaned the boards as well as a 6'3" guard could, dutifully making up the paint-vacancy left by Reed, who had to sit out after his career-defining entrance.
But it was in Frazier's passing game—the pure essence of New York basketball at the time—that the game was won.
Leading the team vocally and by example, Frazier called for the extra pass to swing around to forwards Dave DeBusschere, Bill Bradley and Dick Barnett, who nailed open jumpers like clockwork.
Evocative of the Celtics extra-pass offense, the sight of it must have driven Jerry West crazy.
It didn't matter though as Frazier was on a mission to finish what Reed started.
Then in the closing seconds of a 113-99 title-winning victory he realized he had and cried into Reed's arms.
Frazier's final stats read: 36 points, 19 rebounds, seven assists and, oh, eight or nine steals?
Since steal totals weren't kept at that time, it is up to the Knicks faithful and perhaps a few amateur statisticians to determine how many.
But all that really mattered to Frazier and the Knicks was that ultimate sacrifice for the ultimate prize.