The New York Knicks couldn’t do anything to stop LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers down the stretch of Monday’s contest at Madison Square Garden, but that didn’t prevent some trash-talking after the 104-101 loss.
“I don’t care who you are,” big man Enes Kanter said of James, per Al Iannazzone of Newsday. “What do you call yourself? King, Queen, Princess. Whatever you are. We’re going to fight. Nobody out there is going to punk us.”
The comments are notable not only for the sexist language, but also because Kanter and James jawed with each other after the four-time MVP finished a dunk and wouldn’t move out of Frank Ntilikina’s way:
Bleacher Report @BleacherReport
Things getting chippy between LeBron and the Knicks 👀 https://t.co/zAhQt6QSvz
The incident energized the Knicks and the crowd for extended stretches, but James led the Cavaliers back from 23 points down with 23 points, 12 assists, nine rebounds and three blocks, as well as lockdown defense on Kristaps Porzingis in the fourth quarter.
Dave McMenamin of ESPN shared James’ response to Kanter’s comments:
Dave McMenamin @mcten
LeBron James’ response to Enes Kanter’s postgame barb: “I’m the king, my wife is the queen and my daughter is the princess so we got all three covered.” (Also: Notice the hat) https://t.co/AAkzDLL7kt
Kanter wasn’t the only one James had a remark for after the game.
He threw in a shot at former Knicks president of basketball operations Phil Jackson when discussing the current state of the team, per James Herbert of CBS Sports: “They’re playing some good basketball. I think Jeff—the coach, Jeff Hornacek—is finally, with the release of the old fella, is finally allowed to implement what he wants to do on the team. And it’s showing it’s very effective.”
Kanter tallied a double-double with 20 points and 16 rebounds, but it was his refusal to back down from James that turned the most heads.
It also added another chapter to their public back and forth that played out leading up to Monday’s contest.
Things started when James said the Knicks should have drafted Dallas Mavericks point guard Dennis Smith Jr., per Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com. The Knicks instead took Ntilikina one pick later, and Kanter had his point guard’s back on his Twitter account:
Enes Kanter @Enes_Kanter
Nope!! We love what we got… Thanks!!! https://t.co/eI6nTpghmQ
James made it clear he wasn’t specifically criticizing Ntilikina, per Ian Begley of ESPN.com, and said he was clarifying for “people who just live in the box and for Enes Kanter who’s always got something to say.”
Kanter had something to say after Monday’s contest as well, but James got the final laugh by spearheading the dramatic comeback with dominance on both ends of the floor.