Neil Best first worked at Newsday in 1982, then returned in 1985. His SportsWatch column debuted on Sept.
Let's face it, the only things the Celtics have going for them now are their logo and history, without which they would be viewed as just another nondescript first-round speed bump -- Atlanta Hawks North.
So go ahead and pencil the Knicks into the second round right now, unless you believe the Celtics are capable of winning four of the next five games, which, well . . . no.
Here's the thing, though: Even with this series all but over, Game 3 in Boston Friday night is important for the Knicks, who will encounter an emotionally charged atmosphere and a proud team with one last chance to salvage some dignity.
Why? As you might have read or heard, the Knicks are an old team susceptible to injuries and / or fatigue, so they must do whatever they can to preserve the spring in their steps deep into spring by limiting games.
Adding to that urgency is the fact the Pacers seem unlikely to require more than four or five games to dismiss the Hawks, and the last thing the Knicks need is for their next opponent to be more rested than they are.
Fair or not, the perception of the entire season will come down to what happens against Indiana, after which the Knicks would be playing with house money against Miami in the conference finals.
So, to reiterate: Win Friday night, win on Sunday, then sit on the couch until the NBA and its television partners decide when they will play next.
Coach Mike Woodson liked the sound of that.
"It would be great, but we have got to do that on the floor," he said Thursday. "It would be fantastic if that could happen, because it helps Amar'e in his stage of progression, and he could possibly get back.
"And it gives some of our guys like Kenyon and Pablo an opportunity to rest. But again, we have to get to that stage."
Said J.R. Smith: "It's very important for that to happen but at the same time we're not going to try to rush it. It's no secret we have an older team, and for these guys now to rest their bodies and get treatment and stuff like that, we are in for the long haul, so no matter how long it takes hopefully we'll be there."
Could Smith himself use a blow after the long regular season?
"I'm only 27; I'm good," he said, laughing. "Kidd needs the days. He's 40 years old!"
What say you about that, Jason? "We're not worried about that," he said. "We're just worried about [Game 3]."
As Kidd noted, the Knicks' core talent actually is not old at all, but as he and Martin have demonstrated in these playoffs already, without their aging role players, the Knicks would be vulnerable. So the less hard work this takes, the better.
"Anytime you can get a series like this over with it's always a bonus,"' Carmelo Anthony said. "But as far as age goes, that is not even on our minds right now. Those guys are going out there playing basketball. You can't even tell Jason Kidd is 40 years old right now."
But you might if he plays too much too soon during what the Knicks hope is a season that lasts until June.