After a minor dispute that played out in the press, tensions boiled between LeBron James and Enes Kanter in Monday’s Knicks-Cavaliers game.
James rubbed Knicks players the wrong way when he said New York should have drafted Dennis Smith Jr. over Frank Ntilikina. James clarified later that he meant the remark as a dig at Phil Jackson and not Ntilikina but he was still greeted with hostility from the MSG crowd beginning with pre-game introductions.
Things came to a head late in the first quarter after a LeBron dunk. Ntilikina went to collect the ball but James stood in his path and wouldn’t budge. Unintimidated, Ntilikina shoved James. LeBron barked back and Kanter came to the rookie’s defense.
James also hinted at a bit of disdain for Kanter before the game.
“[The Smith comment is] just that you’re stating what you see,” LeBron said. “That’s all that is, for clarification of people who just live in the box and for Enes Kanter who always got something to say, who says – I don’t know what’s wrong with him.”
Kanter stoked the flames again in his meeting with the media after the game and James had a quick retort.
Enes Kanter, who scuffled with James: "I don't care who you are. What do you call yourself? King, Queen, Princess. Whatever you are. We're going to fight. Nobody out there is going to punk us." Wow— Al Iannazzone (@Al_Iannazzone) November 14, 2017
“I’m the king, my wife is the queen, my daughter’s the princess,” LeBron quipped. “So we have all three covered.”
James got the last laugh on the court, too, leading a Cleveland comeback from 23 points down as they won 104-101. He hit the dagger three in the closing moments to seal New York’s fate.