NBA / Aug 30, 2011 / 11:00 am

Rivalries Renewed: New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics


The NBA tends to come full circle. I mean, did we ever think that after the Mavericks watched the Heat celebrate on their home floor that they would come back to South Beach a mere five years later and return the favor? Did we ever think that the great Phil Jackson could have even had a chance to win 12 titles, coaching two different teams in three different decades? But the NBA has been around a long time, and while we may not have anything on a Red Sox–Yankees level, there are several matchups that come back to rear their ugly head, again and again, kind of like a bad Freddy vs. Jason movie. In honor of this week’s Sox-Yanks series, here is one of our favorite rivalries, Knicks vs. Celtics, which has been renewed from decade to decade.

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This past April, the Knicks and Celtics renewed a rivalry that had been dormant for 20 years. When the Knickerbockers and Celts truly last met up, Paul Pierce was a 12-year-old kid in Los Angeles, players were still playing in short shorts, and Larry Bird was still a top-5 player.

During that series in the spring of 1990, the Knicks rallied from a 2-0 deficit to win a deciding Game 5 in the Boston Garden, the first time the Knicks had won there in six years. The Celtics would remain competitive as long as Bird was on the team, but that loss to the Knicks signaled a changing of the guard. Patrick Ewing (and his flat-top) finally made a name for himself in the playoffs, pouring in monster numbers of 29.0 points and 10.5 rebounds per game, and proved to be too much for Kevin McHale and Robert Parish to handle.

As the story goes, McHale and Parish wanted to double team Big Pat, but Boston coach Jimmy Rodgers wouldn’t allow it, saying they could win without giving Ewing special attention. The addition of Charles Oakley gave the Knicks some much needed physical toughness inside, but it was role players like Maurice Cheeks, Gerald Wilkins and Kenny Walker who got the job done in Game 3 and 5.

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  • heckler

    aint no rivalry right now. Knicks couldnt even win a game against Boston. shameful—they were the ONLY team to get swept in the 1st round. hahahaha. NYers SUCK.

    rivalries are built in the playoffs, and these two teams dont have much of a playoff history. The Knicks had better rivalries with the Bulls, Heat and Pacers!

    however, Carmelo Anthony was BEASTING in game 2. 42pts and 17rebs!
    …at one point, the announcer (marv panty thong wearing albert) was like “its Carmelo and …’just a bunch of guys’ out there”.

  • heckler

    the one part of this rivalry that NEVER WAS was in the late 80s.
    The eastern conference was sooo weak, Boston went the the chip like damn near every year.

    what hurt this rivalry was the knee blowout injury to Bernard King!
    had the Knicks been able to line up Bernard King and Patrick Ewing in like say 1986-89, this could have been a lot different. Boston still wins all those seires (to me), but at least the rivalry would have been there.

    Instead, benard king never recovered, the Knicks were forced to build around Ewing and spare parts. and the Pistons stepped up to trump the Celts.

  • http://www.geturweightup.com Chicagorilla


    are you serious about teams in the 80’s East being weak?

    Really? Then why is it that Magic and the Lakers made it to the finals 9 times (winning 5)? Does that mean that the 80’s west was weaker than the 80’s East because the same team literally for a decade came out of the West. I believe Portland (2x’s) and Houston (2x’s) were the only other teams to make it out of the West during Magics career in the 80’s. (80-92).

    While in the the time frame the East had Boston(5x’s), Philly(3x’s), Detroit(3x’s), Chicago

    Now that that’s settled.

    The Knicks and Celtics do not have a rivalry. they never have and never will. I am pretty good with NBA history and I can’t recall one single playoff series that was epic between the two teams. A first round win by NY when Bird was playing with half a back is the best you can come up with?

    Whoever wrote this article is reaching…and i mean REALLY REACHING for a story when there is none.

    Being from Chicago, I would suggest this to you.

    Jordan in his 2nd season (86′) played a championship level Celtics team and went off for 63 pts (playoff record). They eventually lost to Celtics but that game put Jordan on the map.
    23 years later…..

    Rookie Derrick Rose led the Chicago Bulls in what is considered by many one of the greatest playoff series (first round or any round for that matter) vs the 09′ Celtics championship level team. In his first game he drops 36pts (tied the rookie record for playoff debut) and 11 asst. Had an epic battle with Rondo who himself avg a triple double in that series.

    With Rose being 22 and Rondo being 25, there is a chance we’ll see this match up again in the playoffs (God-Willing).

    That seems like a WAAAAAAAAAY more interesting rivalry story than the one you just wrote my friend.

  • NYK

    you first need a season to have rivalries to last.

  • beiber newz

    Knicks are back.

  • http://freshouttatime.blogspot.com freshouttatime

    melo carrying ny game 2 in boston. jeffries aside, melo gave us a glimpse of what the knicks can become

  • http://tm101radio.com ELIMEnt

    LOL I never knew these teams where rivals..there is like no playoff history between them..

  • JBaller

    There’s no rivalry now because ny has been irellevant for so long, but nyers and beantowners will always hate on eachother.

    I saw Bird put on a show at msg when I was in my teens that included a breakaway dunk! Oakley had a busted arm and was out or else ny would have taken it. Oak walked right through the lobby with his entourage before the game and pushed my dad outta the way with his cast. Still my fav knick ever.

    I hope we get a season so we can see what ny can really do. As of now they are still an unknown quantity. Who knows, maybe there will ne a rivalry?

    Go Knicks!

  • Nora Kassidy

    What goes around comes around.