While contests between these two teams have never been anything short of arduous, 'Melo and Garnett have taken this perpetual clash to a borderline unprecedented level.
In the Celtics' most recent victory over the Knicks, Anthony and Garnett engaged in a ferocious on-court battle that wasn't checked at the exit.
For the entire game, Anthony battled both foul trouble and Garnett in an attempt to overcome a dismal offensive performance and lead his team to victory.
It became all too clear, however, that there would be no Anthony-led resurgence in the waning minutes of this grudge match. Garnett was inside Anthony's head, and he wasn't going anywhere.
The two could not only be found jostling for position on the block, but they were both actively switching on screens just so one could defend the other.
Elbows were thrown, mouths were run and a double-technical was handed out in an effort to stifle what was indomitable hostility.
To no one's surprise, neither Anthony nor Garnett conceded anything. Even after the technicals were handed out, the havoc ensued.
Anthony continued to hoist up contested shots in an effort to prove something while Garnett took what bordered on sadistic pleasure in watching Tyson Chandler attempt to defend Paul Pierce on the perimeter off 'Melo-invoked switches.
A Celtics victory. One that saw Anthony go 6-of-26 from the field for the Knicks and one that saw Garnett grind out an onerous double-double. It was also one that saw this heated exchange end with the final buzzer.
Or so we thought.
Upon the game's conclusion, Anthony (via Frank Isola of the New York Daily News) made his way toward the Celtics locker room, brushing past his teammates' repeated attempts to stop him.
Carmelo exits via the opposite tunnel to avoid walking past the Celtics...or maybe he was waiting for Kevin Garnett.— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) January 8, 2013
From there, a temper tantrum may have ensued; we don't really know.
Anthony heads toward Celtics locker room.
If it is true that Carmelo was lingering around the Celtics locker room the league may have a problem with that.— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) January 8, 2013
What we do know is that Anthony wound up outside the Celtics' team bus, waiting for Garnett.
Carmelo Anthony waited for Kevin Garnett near the Celtics team bus, an eyewitness tells the Daily News.— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) January 8, 2013
Anthony could be found fidgeting deep within the confines of Madison Square Garden, anxiously awaiting the opportunity to finish what he and Garnett started on the court.
And, as news broke that police officers and security personnel were forced to intervene, it became clear that what we conceived to be true was now reality: The Celtics-Knicks rivalry had reached new heights.
Five NYPD officers, MSG security and Mike Woodson were near the bus to make sure the scene did not get out of control, the New has learned.— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) January 8, 2013
By no means was the conflict between these two teams ever completely quelled, yet over the past few years, its meaning has paled in comparison to what it means now.
The Knicks were the poster-team for losing when the Celtics were contending for championships. Even after Amar'e Stoudemire's and Anthony's arrivals, Boston was still the team to beat in the Atlantic Division.
But, as Johnette Howard of ESPNNewYork.com notes, the Knicks are hell-bent on proving all that has changed:
The Celtics have long had what they want. This was the Knicks' first chance this season to start making a statement to Boston about how this season's Atlantic Division race is going to turn out -- or at least as much of a statement as any January game can make when Boston point guard Rajon Rondo was a late scratch and the Knicks' Amar'e Stoudemire is just back from the disabled list.
And instead of running Boston off the Madison Square Garden court, the new look/older-than-dirt Knicks surprisingly got schooled a little themselves, 102-96, in an emotional game that was heisted by Paul Pierce and Garnett -- the only Celts who -- as the joke now goes -- are almost ancient enough to play for the Knicks.
For the fist time in over a decade, it's the Knicks who are watching the Celtics attempt to cope with self-inflicted turmoil as New York continues to establish itself as an NBA powerhouse. And yet, New York failed.
Prior to their first meeting of the season, the Knicks were the alpha dog of their division. After this loss, their record still supports such a notion, yet Boston's latest performance was laced with a message, one that made it clear the Celtics weren't going anywhere.
As Anthony's postgame lingering came to show, neither are the Knicks.
The Celtics are desperate to reassert their dominance as a powerhouse. They were supposed to instill fear into the rest of their conference, contend for championships the way they have for the past five years.
Instead, Boston has been left clinging to one of the final playoff spots, struggling beyond reason to play .500 basketball.
The Knicks, though? The've been rolling.
New York has the second-best record in the East and the sixth-best record in the league. And the Celtics hate them for it.
They were supposed to be the ones proving New York's dynamic was flawed beyond repair. They were the ones that were supposed to serve as the ultimate hindrance to the Miami Heat's quest to repeat. They were the ones that were supposed to be perched atop the Atlantic Division. Not the Knicks.
Don't believe that potent hatred isn't reciprocated, though.
New York is tired of living in Boston's shadow, exhausted from the years spent arguing that it was better than its record suggests. The Knicks are done looking up at the Celtics; Anthony is done being bested by the same players who helped taint his return to New York.
Three. That's the number of meetings (not including potential playoff bouts) left between these teams this season.
Which team is better?
It's the number of times we will likely bear witness to uncontrollable emotions and out-of-character breakdowns.
"I thought both teams lost control," Mike Woodson said after the game. "We let it get to us."
And this much was clear as we watched Anthony bring this rivalry from the court onto the streets.
The same rivalry that has never ceased to exist, but spent years on life support.
The same rivalry that has left Anthony beside himself.
The same rivalry that has never been more alive than it is today.
*All stats in this article are accurate as of January 7, 2013.