It started small, but over the span of only a few seconds, the masses at the TD Garden broke into a deafening chant of "Honey Nut Cheerios" during the first quarter of Game 6 between the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics.
You knew it was going to happen eventually.
The assembled Celtics faithful weren't espousing their love for what is, undeniably, an excellent breakfast dish. They were dredging up a phrase that Kevin Garnett allegedly leveled at Carmelo Anthony during a Jan. 7 meeting at Madison Square Garden.
KG is said to have used the term in reference to Anthony's wife, LaLa Vazquez. The sordid details all reside somewhere between speculation and rumor, but you can read one account of the back story over at the New York Daily News.
Anyhow, it's no surprise that Boston fans broke out the chant in an effort to rile Anthony up. The Celtics started the game off ice-cold, and with their team facing elimination, a last resort was apparently in order.
But while it's one thing to show enthusiasm, it's quite another to make things so personal. It's not surprising that Knicks fans were a little miffed:
We get called immature for dressing in all black to close out a series and Boston fans chant "honey but Cheerios" and claim they have class?— KnicksTape (@KnicksTape) May 3, 2013
And as Ian O'Connor of ESPN noted, this wasn't the first line-crossing incident Boston fans have been a part of:
Jason Kidd can tell Melo that the "Honey Nut Cheerios" chant is nothing compared to the chant he heard in '02 playoffs here— Ian O'Connor (@Ian_OConnor) May 3, 2013
Yep, these are the same fans that taunted Jason Kidd more than a decade ago with chants of "wife-beater" when his wife was in the stands.
Anthony tried to track down Garnett after that Jan. 7 game, probably in hopes of continuing their conversation in a way that involved a few more closed fists. But the two never squared off and they reportedly settled their beef in a phone conversation shortly thereafter.
Jordan Crawford stirred things up again after the Celtics' Game 5 win in New York, so perhaps he's to blame for the cereal's return to Boston's vernacular.
That's not meant as an excuse, though. In the aftermath of a period when "Boston Strong" became such a big part of the national sports culture, this was a weak move.