There was nothing wrong with the Knicks getting all riled up over LeBron James’s assertion that the team would have been better off drafting Dennis Smith Jr. over Frank Ntilikina. It was even heartening to see young Frank get up in the King’s personal space last night, and to see Enes Kanter coming in to back up his rookie. But after blowing a 23-point lead and losing at home, the time for being chesty had passed.
That didn’t stop Kanter from taking a few more shots at James during his postgame interview, telling reporters, “I don’t care who you are, king— whatever you call yourself, king, queen, princess—whatever you are, you know what, we gonna fight. And nobody out there gonna punk us,” he said.
The thing is, Kanter and the Knicks absolutely got punked last night. They gave up 43 points in the fourth quarter, a period in which James scored seven, dished eight assists, and grabbed four rebounds. He also hit the game-deciding shot, a deep three right in Kristaps Porzingis’s face. After that, he gave the courtside fans a mean glare while he took a short victory lap:
I’m sorry, Enes, but you got punked. That’s exactly what getting punked looks like!
Kanter’s postgame comments were of course brought to James’s attention, and he dismissed them:
Despite all this, last night can still be seen as a net positive for the Knicks and basketball in general. James has always taken great pleasure in humiliating the Knicks on their home floor, and in years past the team has been far too shitty and dispirited to do much more than raise a finger in protest. The King pantsed them again last night, but at least they were mad about it, and that’s progress.