LeBron James complimented New York Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek but kept the verbal shots firing at Hornacek’s starting center, as well as Hornacek’s former boss.
And it appears James, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Knicks have created a link, especially after the way the Cavs came back from a 23-point deficit to win at Madison Square Garden on Monday.
Among the most memorable moments: James and Knicks center Enes Kanter getting into it before and after the game. During the game, James and Kanter went after each other and received technical fouls after Knicks rookie Frank Ntikilina bumped chests with James.
“He’s a rookie. You call yourself ‘King’ or whatever. But you can’t just mess with a rookie like that. If you’re going to mess with [someone], go mess with the grown men. I’ll die for my teammates,” Kanter told the media. “Whatever happens, I got my teammates’ back because I see this team, this organization, like my family. Nobody is going to mess with it.”
James said he didn’t put much thought into Kanter’s words..
“We got the win,” he told the media. “I’m not going to get, uh, I’m not going to say that guy’s name again, anyway.”
Ntilikina also blew off his brief confrontation with James.
“He was in my way to get the ball, to get the ball out of bounds,” Ntilikina said. “It could have been anyone, so I just pushed him to get the ball in. He was in my way. It could have been anyone.”
Then there was the whole “Queen, King, Princess” reference, first thrown out by Kanter.
“I’ll tell you one thing, this team is really special. You ain’t coming to my house and playing that water bottle flip game again. 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. We went out there and played our game. We’re going to go out there and get better every day.”
“Whatever you wanna call yourself – king, queen, princess, whatever – we’re gonna fight… and nobody’s gonna punk us”
😳 Wow. Enes Kanter is FED UP (and is quickly becoming a fan favorite) pic.twitter.com/ytVqf0GJ13
— Andrew Claudio (@Claudio_GSN) November 14, 2017
Kanter’s first reference was to something that happened when the Cavs flipped water bottles on the sidelines late in a blowout win over the Knicks. (He was still a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder at the time.)
The second reference, of course, was to the King of Cleveland Basketball.
James did not let those words slide.
“Well, I’m the King, my wife is the Queen and my daughter’s the Princess, so we’ve got all three covered,” he said.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) November 14, 2017
This whole thing really did start with James’ negative feelings for former Knicks president Phil Jackson. After the Cavs’ win over Dallas on Saturday, James tried to compliment Mavericks rookie Dennis Smith Jr. by saying Smith “should be a Knick.” The Knicks drafted Ntikilina with the eighth overall pick, one spot ahead of Smith. Jackson was still in charge of the Knicks at the time of the draft.
“They’re playing some good basketball,” James said of the Knicks. “I think Jeff, the coach, Jeff Hornacek is finally — with the release of the old fella (Jackson, age 72), he’s finally allowed to implement what he wants to do on the team and he’s showing it’s very effective.”