Tipoff

Jan. 9. 1999

NBA Lockout III – the one that came closest to costing the league an entire season – had come to an end.

Celtics forward Antoine Walker, apparently downright giddy to be back on the floor, proclaimed he wanted to be nothing but a Celtic forever more.

Walker didn’t quite make it. He hopped from the Celtics to the Mavericks, from the Mavericks to the Hawks, from the Hawks back to the Celtics, from the Celtics to the Heat, from the Heat to the Timberwolves, and from the Timberwolves to Puerto Rico.

Celtics self-proclaimed guru Rick Pitino said he and the team were dedicated to winning back the fans’ love. Their intention was, in the words if NBA commissioner David Stern, to put the fans on a pedestal,

In practical terms, the Celtics couldn’t be sure how quickly they could accomplish that feat. While the season would be condensed to 50 games, Delaware North had filled out the FleetCenter’s slate as much as they could rather then bank on any semblance of an NBA season. February and March offered a limited number of open dates.