Celtics-Knicks Rivalry Goes Way Back
These teams hated each other in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Red Auerbach, then the undisputed ruler of the Celtics as coach and later GM, loathed the Knicks. It stemmed from a slight before he even got to Boston. One of his many signature moves as Celtics GM was when he signed three Knicks to free-agent deals as a way to stop New York from signing free agent Kevin McHale. It worked. The Knicks took back their players, McHale stayed and the rest is history.
Auerbach had no use for the venerable Red Holzman, the future Hall of Famer who was coaching the Knicks. You wonder about the source of current Lakers coach Phil Jackson's enmity toward the Celtics? It came from that period in his life, when he was a reserve on the Knicks. Jackson also revered Holzman.
In the late 1960s, the Celtics were coming down after the Bill Russell years and the Knicks viewed themselves as the logical successor. The teams met in 1969 in the second round of the playoffs, with the Celtics upsetting the favored Knicks in six games. Boston went on to win its last title of the Russell era (and 11th in 13 years), and the Knicks displaced the Celtics as NBA champs the following year, buoyed by Willis Reed's heroics in the Finals against the Lakers.
In 1972, the Knicks beat the Celtics in five games in the conference finals, although they lost to the Lakers in the NBA Finals. The Knicks again eliminated the Celtics in the conference finals in 1973, a series most Celtics fans mark with an asterisk because John Havlicek got hurt. The Knicks became the first team to win a Game 7 in Boston that year and won their second title in four years.
By the end of that decade, the Celtics were in decline, and Sonny Werblin, then the boss of Madison Square Garden, offered Auerbach a four-year deal to run the Knicks. Auerbach came very close to taking the deal, primarily because of an untenable ownership situation in Boston. Celtics owner John Y. Brown had traded away three No. 1 picks to the Knicks for Bob McAdoo. The deal went down without Auerbach's knowledge, and he was furious about it. But he stayed in Boston and outlasted Brown, who eventually sold out to Harry Mangurian.
Trade Season Is Upon Us
Special to ESPN.com
Come every Dec. 15, wheeling and dealing begins in earnest.
'Tis the season -- that is to say, the start of the NBA trade season. Players signed during the summer can't be traded for three months or until Dec. 15, whichever is later. This means the bulk of this past summer's bumper crop of free agents are eligible to be traded starting today. Any player signed Sept. 15 or earlier -- i.e., most players signed during the summer -- can now be dealt.
The Lakers, Nets and Rockets started their holiday shopping a little early Tuesday, reportedly agreeing to a three-way trade that sends Sasha Vujacic to New Jersey, Joe Smith to Los Angeles and Terrence Williams to Houston, with the Nets netting (hard to resist the pun) a pair of first-round picks in the deal. Smith was signed during the summer, so the trade can't be made official until Wednesday.
Who are the other players who just became eligible to be traded? Below is a list of the 105 players who can now be included in trade discussions.
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The Celtics and Knicks are both riding win streaks into Wednesday night's game. The Kevin Garnett-Amare Stoudemire battle might decide the outcome.
Miami's Hot Streak
Last week, before the Heat traveled to California for their games against Golden State and Sacramento, I examined the chances that the Heat entered the Christmas Day battle with the Los Angeles Lakers riding a 14-game win streak. At that point, the Heat had eight games before the Dec. 25 matchup, and statistically speaking, the probability that the Heat won each of those eight games was 19.6 percent.
So with another three in the books, what's the probability the Heat extend the streak to 14 before the Lakers? 25.6 percent, up 6 percentage points since last week's check.