It's been more than 20 years, but as the Knicks and Heat battle in the playoffs again, all the bad blood resurfaces for Chris Childs. The gritty point guard from Boise State had to earn his stripes in the old CBA league before he received a shot to play in the NBA. But when he finally did, Childs parlayed his blue collar effort into a contract with the Knicks. And when those 1990s squads -- led by head coach Jeff Van Gundy -- took on the Heat in the playoffs for four straight seasons, the animosity was real.
"Stop crying to the refs," Childs recently said about his disdain for the Heat on the "New York Accent" podcast. "If we're gonna be physical, let's be physical. Hard fouls and tough plays? You guys are playing the same way as us, but we aren't complaining."
Bitterness between New York and Miami created a storm, where two straight playoff series were marred with brawls. In May 1997, Heat forward P.J. Brown flipped Knicks guard Charlie Ward, which caused many of the Knicks to leave the bench and join the scrum. They were all suspended by the NBA, and this altered the series. The Knicks led 3-1 and then dropped the last three games. In April 1998, former Hornets teammates Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson fought each other. Van Gundy grabbed onto Mourning's leg for dear life.
"Tim [Hardaway], he was a little whiner," Childs claimed. "I didn't like his voice. I don't even like the way he sounds. He doesn't sound like a man. And he's on TV now and you can't understand anything he says. Like, why are you talking? I mean, come on -- they put guys on TV that can't even speak well. Have you seen him on the show? He sounds like a Muppet... Put on the teleprompter and get his face out of the way."
After 1997, tensions were boiling over. And that's when Mourning and Johnson erupted into fisticuffs. "We had so much hatred toward them at that time, that any little thing was going to tick somebody off," Childs said. "Let me rephrase what you said. Alonzo and LJ wasn't too much of a fight. And I said, 'Hey, they need to get in the gym and work on a two-piece, no biscuit.'
"[Van Gundy] was grabbing on to Alonzo, and I was surprised. Like, why is Jeff grabbing his leg? Like a chihuahua he's going to bite him or something... I run over there and grabbed Jeff... All I wanted to do was get to my coach and get him up before he got stomped like a jockey falling off a horse... I'm gonna get talked about so bad. I gotta stop because of my kids that I'm trying to coach. He told us not to talk about people. Sorry, I'm having one of those moments."
Discussing the tension between the 1990s Knicks and Heat teams will stir up some feelings.
You can listen to and watch the entire conversation of Childs on "New York Accent" everywhere you get your podcasts, and on YouTube.