The Cavs went to New York yesterday and it was everything you could’ve hoped for from a November game and then some. LeBron got it started early by saying over the weekend that Dallas Mavericks rookie Dennis Smith Jr. was a “diamond in the rough”and he “should be a Knick.” Some people thought that was a shot at Knicks rookie Frank Ntilikina. And one of those people was Enes Kanter, who retweeted LeBron saying it with the comment: Nope!! We love what we got… Thanks!!!
That was Round One and by the time LeBron got to New York, he wanted to set the record straight. It wasn’t about Frankie Smokes. “I wasn’t throwing shade at Frank at all, for people that got their pants in bunches and things of that nature here in New York, that look for any controversy here.”
So, if it wasn’t about Frank, was it a shot at Phil Jackson, who drafted him? “It’s definitely a shot at him, that’s for sure. I wasn’t even thinking about [Ntilikina] when I was talking about Dennis Smith. I was talking about just the Knicks organization and Phil Jackson at the time and Dennis Smith’s talent and Porzingis. That’s all I was thinking about.”
Oh, and LeBron had a thought about Kanter, too: “All that is for clarification for people who just live in the box and for Enes Kanter, who always got something to say. He says – I don’t know what’s wrong with him.”
Kanter would tell you there’s nothing wrong with him. There might not be a more loyal dude in the league than Kanter. You say anything remotely close to insulting one of his guys and he will go. He was looking for a reason last night and he got it with 40.2 seconds left in the first quarter. LeBron finished off an alley-oop, started to head up court, and bumped into Frankie Smokes. And then it was on.
And by on, what I really mean is a lot of jawing and two guys in Kanter and LeBron who weren’t going to back down. Love that. For a November NBA game, that’s the equivalent of a bench-clearing brawl. And it was great.
Almost as great as the Knicks going on a 15-0 run shortly thereafter and getting up by 23 on the Cavs. The Garden was alive and for a moment, it looked like the Knicks were going to run Cleveland out of the building. Think about that: the Knicks, up by 23, on the Cavs. What a time to be alive.
Until the Cavs flipped the switch and came storming back, dropping 43 on the Knicks in the fourth quarter and as impressive a win as they’ve had this year, which tells you that they haven’t had a lot of impressive wins this year. But not only was it impressive, it was chippy. It was bitter. It was fun.
Normally, taking the subway after shoot around might seem hokey, but when you chase it with a game like that, I love it. If that’s the result we get, they should do it every time.
And speaking of things that should be done every time, Kanter and LeBron should be on the court not just in every Knicks-Cavs game, they should be on the court in every NBA game. Period. Because things are just better when they’re out there and when they’re talking about it afterwards.
Here’s Kanter talking about why he was ready to go to battle.
Look, let’s be real, going with Queen and Princess gloss isn’t exactly the most original take ever. In fact, it’s pretty tired and lame. But I love the fact that Kanter was offended by the water bottle toss game that the Cavs played during a Knicks game last year. Why do I love that? Because Kanter wasn’t even a member of the Knicks at the time. He was in OKC and he’s still pissed about those events in MSG. Love that.
Those comments were run back to LeBron and he swatted them into the stands.
And LeBron wasn’t leaving the city without shot at Phil disguised as a compliment to the Knicks: “I think Jeff, the coach, Jeff Hornacek is finally — with the release of the old fella, he’s finally allowed to implement what he wants to do on the team and he’s showing it’s very effective.”
“The old fella” – love it. Comeback win and a dagger in the old fella’s heart. Game. Set. Match. That’s a huge Monday for LeBron.