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Robert Reid Cause Of Death, Funeral and Obituary

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The Houston Rockets and the NBA community are mourning the loss of Robert Reid, who passed away on Monday (Feb. 19) at the age of 68 after a battle with cancer. His death was confirmed on social media by Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta. 

“It is with great sorrow that my family and I received the news of the passing of Rockets legend Robert Reid,” Fertitta tweeted Tuesday afternoon. “I have had the privilege of knowing Robert for over 40 years, and his presence always brought joy and positivity to any room he entered. I will never forget watching the Rockets teams he was a part of in the ’80s compete in the Finals and the love he had for the game. My heartfelt condolences go out to his wife, Diana, and all those who held him dear. Robert’s absence will be deeply felt, and he will be fondly remembered.”

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Robert Reid’s Life and Career 

Reid was a versatile and reliable forward who played 10 seasons with the Rockets and was a key contributor to the franchise’s first two NBA Finals appearances in 1981 and 1986.

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BOSTON – 1980: Robert Reid #50 of the Houston Rockets drives to the basket during a game against the Boston Celtics played in 1980 at the Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images

Reid, whose nickname was “Bobby Joe,” was drafted by the Rockets in the second round of the 1977 NBA draft out of St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. He quickly established himself as a valuable role player, averaging 11.6 points and 4.9 rebounds in his 10 seasons with the Rockets. He was also a solid defender, often guarding the opposing team’s best wing player.

Reid’s most memorable moments came in the playoffs, where he helped the Rockets reach the NBA Finals twice, despite being underdogs in both occasions. In 1981, the Rockets upset the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in the first round, and then defeated the San Antonio Spurs and the Kansas City Kings to advance to the Finals, where they faced the Boston Celtics. 

Reid had the daunting task of guarding Larry Bird, who was in his prime and had won the MVP award that season. Reid held his own against Bird, limiting him to eight points in both Game 3 and Game 4 in Houston, which the Rockets won to tie the series at 2-2. Although the Celtics eventually won the series in six games, Reid earned a backhanded compliment in Bird’s 1989 autobiography “Drive: The Story Of My Life.” 

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HOUSTON, TX – CIRCA 1981: Larry Bird #33 of the Boston Celtics dribbles the ball while being defended by Robert Reid #50 of the Houston Rockets during an NBA basketball game circa 1981 at The Summit in Houston, Texas. Bird played for the Celtics from 1979-92. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

In 1986, the Rockets returned to the Finals, led by the twin towers of Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson. Reid was still a vital part of the team, providing leadership, experience and clutch shooting. In Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals against the Lakers, Reid hit a 3-pointer with 15 seconds left to tie the game at 112-112, setting the stage for Sampson’s legendary buzzer-beater that sent the Rockets to the Finals.

The Rockets faced the Celtics again, who had one of the best teams in NBA history, featuring Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson, and Bill Walton. The Rockets put up a valiant fight, but lost the series in six games.

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Reid’s NBA career spanned from 1977 to 1991, with brief stints with the Charlotte Hornets, Portland Trail Blazers, and Philadelphia 76ers after leaving the Rockets. He retired with career averages of 9.7 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. He also had a remarkable personal journey, as he took a year off from basketball in 1982 to devote his time to the Pentecostal church, citing his faith and family as his priorities. 

He later returned to the game, but never lost his passion for his religion.

Reid was beloved by his teammates, coaches, fans, and the Rockets organization, who honored him with a tribute video and a moment of silence before their game against the Utah Jazz on Monday. He is survived by his wife, Diana, and his four children.

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