CHARLESTON, S.C. -- The NBA's ugliest and most public of feuds came to an emotional ending several hours before the New York Knicks' 110-88 win over the Washington Bullets last night in their NBA preseason opener at North Charleston Coliseum.
New Knicks coach Don Nelson called Chris Webber at his hotel yesterday and the two talked about the conflict that began two years ago and ultimately led to Nelson's being fired as Golden State Warriors coach and Webber's being traded.
"I felt like the situation had been over for a long time, but us talking gave it some clarity," Webber said.
"I've wanted to bury it for a long time and he called to tell me he felt the same way. We can't change what happened, but that's in the past and we both have to move forward. It was good to talk about it."
Nelson echoed Webber's sentiments. "I don't want to make a big thing out of it," he said. "It's in the past, a long time ago. Let's move forward."
The contest marked the pair's first meeting since before Webber was traded from Golden State to the Bullets on Nov. 17, 1994. Webber did play for the Bullets in a game against Golden State last season, but Nelson, ill at the time, was not present.
The trade, which Webber demanded, was one of two painful results of the feud that began during the 1993-94 season, Webber's rookie year. The other was Nelson's firing, which partially resulted from the perception that the feud had splintered his team.
Time and distance seem to have given both a different perspective on their past problems. Nelson talks of Webber's being a great talent; Webber talks of Nelson's being a great coach. Webber said the saddest thing about the feud is that he believes they could have worked out their problems.
The reconciliation upstaged the game in which the Knicks' new up-tempo offense stormed to a 39-14 first-quarter lead. Patrick Ewing, Derek Harper and Anthony Mason scored 10 each in the quarter.
Charles Smith led the Knicks with 22 points, and Calbert Cheaney and Juwan Howard each had 17 for the Bullets, who never threatened.
No. 1 draft pick Rasheed Wallace had six points, two rebounds and an elbowing match with Smith. The rookie shouted and stared down Smith and both wound up with technical fouls.