The Knicks-Celtics rivalry certainly added fuel to the fire on Monday during Boston’s 102-96 win over New York, which saw the intensity on the floor spill over into a postgame incident that may result in a suspension of New York’s Carmelo Anthony.
Both Anthony and Kevin Garnett received technical fouls late in the fourth quarter after a heated verbal exchange. Most thought the confrontation would end there, but Anthony decided to seek out Garnett after the game and share some more words. Sources close to the incident told ESPN that Anthony waited outside the Celtics’ locker room and later near the team bus to talk to Garnett, where the situation was apparently de-escalated by New York City police, team security and Knicks coach Mike Woodson.
Anthony said he wanted to “talk it out like two grown men” and claimed there was no ill will behind his actions.
“I wanted to talk to KG,” Anthony said after practice Tuesday. “I think it was something that we both needed to get off our chests and see what really was the problem. It wasn’t no altercations, it was just some words and [a] conversation that we needed to have.”
The verbal sparring that took place during the closing minutes of the game visibly upset Anthony, who later talked with Garnett over the phone and apparently, at least partially smoothed things over.
“It’s certain things that you just don’t say to men, another man,” Anthony said. “I felt that he crossed the line. Like I said, we’re both at an understanding right now, we handled it the way we handled it. Nobody needs to know what was said behind closed doors. So that situation is handled.”
There was talk of a possible suspension after the incident, but Anthony denies any wrongdoing since nothing physical took place after the game.
“Nothing happened for me to be suspended,” said Anthony. “I just wanted to know what was being said, where was all that coming from. Whatever was being said on the basketball court, where was it coming from?”
Garnett dismissed the on-court altercation as nothing more than trash talk, saying:
“Listen, heat of the battle, man, guys throw back and forth,” he said. “He’s trying to get his team to go; I’m trying to get my team to go. Both teams are colliding. Not to mention that it’s the Knicks and the Celtics. Just what it is.”
Of course, trash talk, even inflammable trash talk has been a part of NBA basketball for the entirety of the league’s existence, as Celtics coach Doc Rivers pointed out.
“All Kevin did was say something back,” Rivers said. “But the talking is so overblown to me. Talking’s been going on since, hell, before I even started playing. Larry Bird was one of the biggest trash talkers in the league.”
We may never know what was said, but it will certainly be interesting to see if the intensity of the rivalry continues to heat up when the teams meet again on Jan. 24.