Jerry Sloan @Willis Reed: “Motherf—–, I ain’t scared of you.”
The first time I read this story, it didn’t make much of an impression on me. I remembered the story, but not who the antagonist was. This past Hall of Fame enshrinement weekend, however, has breathed new life into it.
As told by Jerry’s former teammate, Bob Love:
[W]e were playing New York in Chicago Stadium. The Knicks had Willis Reed and Earl Monroe and Walt Frazier and those guys. Willis Reed got a rebound and threw it out and was gonna beat Tom Boerwinkle down the floor. He was hauling it down the floor. He had his head down, and when he looked up, Jerry Sloan was right there, man. He ran over Sloan. Charge! Willis fell on the floor and hurt his knee. He already had a bad knee. He looked at Jerry and said, ‘Motherf—-r, don’t get in front of me again. You made me hurt my knee.’ You know how guys talk. Sloan said, ‘I ain’t afraid of you.’
“Later in the game, Willis Reed got another rebound. He hauled off down the sideline again. This time he saw Jerry. Willis didn’t go right, and he didn’t go left. He ran over Jerry. When he hit Jerry, he walked all the way up to his head and scraped him and left Converse marks, from his forehead all the way down to his ear, man. All you saw was a red mark. And there was Willis saying, ‘I told you not to get in front of me!’ Sloan said, ‘Motherf—–, I still ain’t scared of you.’
“And the rest of the game, every time Willis got a rebound, he looked. He looked for Jerry. Jerry would have guys zigzagging down the floor, because you couldn’t touch him. He was the greatest charge-taker that I have ever seen in my life. … Right now he would be considered the all-time greatest defensive player the game has ever known if he was playing on TV. He would have every kid in America copying that style.” ["Stockton to Malone The Rise of the Utah Jazz" by Roland Lazenby*]
I so ♥♥♥ reading/hearing stories about Jerry fighting with people (please don’t judge me too much). Anyway, from the still above, which is from the HOF weekend, it looks like Jerry and
Willis Reed Oscar Robertson have managed to put their differences behind them. ;) have no issues which is irrelevant to this post (slaps self across forehead).
*I strongly recommend this book. It’s a short read (94 pages) with three chapters: Stockton and Malone, Sloan, and the Finals run. The Sloan chapter has some great stories and is worth the price of purchase by itself.