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The Knicks-Heat rivalry produced enemies for life

The old Heat-Knicks rivalry, forged by Pat Riley’s betrayal, PJ Brown’s body slam and Jeff Van Gundy hanging on for dear life, can be best explained by Chris Childs, among the linchpins of those series in the 1990s.

“I don’t think the current players truly understand the hatred,” Childs told the Daily News. “The fans need to speak up and talk about that. Because only the ex-players and the fans understand that we did not like each other. We didn’t go out to dinner. The only friends were Patrick [Ewing] and Alonzo [Mourning]. We didn’t shake hands before the game. We didn’t do none of that. Because we wanted to beat each other’s brains out.”

Childs held particular disdain for former Heat point guard Tim Hardaway. That hasn’t changed.

“I dislike him,” Childs said. “Still do.”

The issue with Hardaway was two-fold, Childs explained. There were some fouls that breached protocol — “any time you go above the shoulders with elbows and things like that, I take it personally” — and apparently Hardaway was salty because the Knicks chose Childs instead during the 1996 free agency.

“He made some statements because he wanted to go to New York,” Childs said. “At the time we were free agents, and I ended up going to New York and he ended up going to Miami. And so there was a little bit of bitterness because of his status. Him going to New York, his marketability would’ve been better than in Miami, at the time. I understand that. But there’s no need for you to mention my name about anything to anybody.”

What did Hardaway say?

“‘[That I] shouldn’t have been in New York, he can’t do this, he can’t do that,’” Childs recalled. “I changed my game for the betterment of the team. If he would’ve went to New York, he wasn’t going to be the focal point. It still would’ve been Patrick [Ewing]. When Allan [Houston] came as a free agent, it would’ve been him. When [Latrell] Sprewell came, it would’ve been him. So I don’t know what his gripe was about. But that’s for him to talk about. I don’t talk about Tim. He means nothing to me.”

The unfortunate irony is that Hardaway now works for the Knicks as an “amateur scout,” although he hasn’t been around Madison Square Garden this season. Childs, meanwhile, remains on the outside of the organization because he supported Charles Oakley during the power forward’s rift with James Dolan.

“Good luck [to Hardaway]. I wish him the best. I’m a Knick till I die,” Childs said. “Even though we’re not on the same page right now as far as everything that went on with Oak. There’s still a lot of bitterness that they have towards me. I’ve never done anything or anybody but just play my heart out for the franchise and I’m going to continue to support them and wish for the best.”