Dave Stallworth, an All-American at Wichita State andkey contributor on the Knicks’ 1970 NBA championship team,died Wednesday in Wichita, Kan. He was 75.
Described by the Wichita Eagle as "the greatest Shocker," Stallworth, a 6-7 forward, earned the nickname "Dave the Rave" as an All-American who ledWichita State to the 1965 Final Four.
The Knicks, who drafted him in the first round (third overall) in 1965, darkened the lights at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night in memory of the Rookie of the Year runner-up to Rick Barry.
After his second NBA season, Stallworth suffered a heart attack at age 26 in 1967 and missed the next two seasons.
He returned to the Knicks in time for one of the greattitle runs in NBA history.
Though he averaged only7.8 points per game,playing in all 82 games in the 1969-70 season, he and Dave DeBusschere stepped in when captain Willis Reed was injured in Game 5 of the NBA Finals and the two held Lakers star Wilt Chamberlain to four points in the second half of a 107-100 victory.
Stallworth scored 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter as the Knicks rallied from a 13-point deficit to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
With Reed sidelined with a torn thigh muscle, the Knicks lost Game 6, setting the stage for Reed's legendary appearance at the start of Game 7.
“There was no way Reed could play,” Stallworth said after Game 7 in a jubilant Knick locker room (via the New York Daily News). “He was limping so bad. The guy is beautiful, just beautiful.”
Stallworth took over in the second half for the badly limping Reed as the Knicks won, 113-99, to win their first NBA title.
In November 1971, Stallworth waspart of another piece of Knicks lore as he was traded with Mike Riordan to the Baltimore Bullets for Earl "The Pearl" Monroe, who starred in New York's backcourt with Walt Frazier and helped the Knicks win their second — and most recent — title in 1973.
Stallworth retired at 33 after a brief return to the Knicks in the 1974-75 season.He later returned to Wichita and worked for many years at Boeing, according to the Eagle.