Last season, before the Cavaliers took on the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, LeBron James took a clear shot at Phil Jackson — a favorite pastime of his, and of Knicks fans — saying Dennis Smith Jr. should have been a Knick (Jackson drafted Frank Ntilikina eighth, letting Dennis Smith Jr. fall to the Mavericks at No. 9). The Knicks and their fans took that as a shot at Ntilikina. Then new Knick Enes Kanter came to his teammate’s defense, so LeBron clarified his shot was at Jackson. During the eventual Cavs/Knicks game, LeBron and Kanter got in each other’s face.
So, is there a beef there? Kanter talked about it to Royce Young of ESPN.
And then it was the first game I was with the Knicks and then he came and before the game he said we should’ve drafted Dennis Smith Jr. And not just me, but most of our guys felt like it was disrespectful to Frank [Ntilikina] and we actually sat down with Frank and talked to him and said, “Hey you gotta step up for yourself, man.”
Then I was in the game and they were pushing each other and I’m like, “This is a 19-year-old kid against a 260-pound dude. This is not fair.” So I get in there and we were face-to-face and we trash-talked a little bit. After the game I called him “queen” or “princess” or whatever.
But I would do anything to take his focus away, distract him. People ask me, “Does it work?” No it does not work. But I’m trying.
That’s the thing with LeBron, at this point in his career nobody is getting in his head. He’s just too mentally strong for that.
Kanter, however, is going to chirp, going to get in guys’ faces on the court and Tweet about it later. It’s who he is, and part of what makes him entertaining as a player.
It’s worth reading the entire Kanter Q&A with ESPN as he gets into his beef with Kevin Durant, his Twitter persona, and his inability to return to his native Turkey because of strongman/dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Kanter opposes his rule), and what that has meant for his family.