|Former Celtics Tony Battie (left) and Travis Knight (right)|
Here's some highlights from Cooz's big night:
Today is also the 18th anniversary of the trade that sent University of Connecticut product Travis Knight to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Tony Battie. Knight, who was drafted 29th by the Chicago Bulls in the 1996 NBA Draft, was renounced by the Bulls, who did not want to give him a three-year deal. He signed with the Lakers on a one-year deal, which he parlayed into an appearance in the 1997 Rookie All-Star Game, and later, a seven-year deal with Boston under new Coach and General Manager Rick Pitino. Knight understood he was only cut out to be a role player as a pro, and implied he'd made a deal with the devil (Pitino - more than a few of you likely agree), though that sentiment was far from mutual; Rick raved about Travis (per the Hartford Courant):
"Travis Knight is going to be a great, great player in this league."
Travis' heart remained in Los Angeles, however, evidenced by his words on signing the lucrative deal (per the New York Times):
"I really have mixed emotions...I should be elated right now, but I'm not. I feel so much loyalty [to the Lakers]."
The Lakers did not have cap space to sign Knight to a deal worthy of his rookie campaign, and appeared to be part of his past, but after a single season in green averaging 6.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, he got his wish and was traded back to Los Angeles in exchange for Battie, who would spend six seasons in Beantown. Here's the full 1997 Rookie All-Star Game Knight played alongside fellow Laker rooks Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher, Celtic Antoine Walker, and future Celtics Ray Allen, Vitaly Potapenko and Roy Rogers:
Battie, who struggled badly enough early in his career after being selected fifth overall by the Denver Nuggets in the 1997 NBA Draft that then-general manager Dan Issel referred to him as "El Busto'', never did live up to the expectations of such a high pick, but still managed to be a reliable rotation player in his years in Boston. Averaging 6.8 points and 5.9 boards per game over the six season duration, he would be traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers with Kedrick Brown and Eric Williams in exchange for Ricky Davis, Michael Stewart, Chris Mihm, and a second-round pick.
Battie was quite possibly instrumental in bringing Banner 17 to Boston, even though he was several years gone from the team by the 2007-08 season. It was Tony who rushed a bleeding Paul Pierce to the hospital in September of 2000, imploring his wounded ex-teammate to hang on to life (per the Orlando Sentinel's Brian Schmitz):
"We didn't know how badly injured he was at the time. I guess it was probably better not knowing ... But knowing his character, if anybody could pull through something like that, Paul would be the guy ... it affected me for the simple fact that he was my teammate ... and now he is the Finals MVP. ... Who else has had a turnaround like that? [...] We're all people before we're players. This is what we do; this is not really who we are. Outside the bright lights and jerseys and screaming fans, we're fathers, we're brothers, we're sons. We're just regular people, but something like that does put things in perspective ... I'm just happy for him. He was my rookie. I showed him the ropes. He was like my little brother and still is."
Gracias, "El Busto" - any chance we can get this guy a ring for HIS role in Banner 17?
For more stories about Celtics history on Celticslife, click here. For more by Justin, click here.
Data via basketball-reference.com
Photo via nbatrades.tumblr.com
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Justin Quinn 1/21/2017 10:01:00 AM Tweet Edit