LeBron James tweeted Sunday prior to the Cleveland Cavaliers matchup with the New York Knicks, stating that the Knicks ‘slept on’ high-flying rookie Dennis Smith Jr. during the 2017 NBA Draft.
The Knicks had the 8th pick in this year’s talent-packed draft, and stunned most by taking Frank Ntilikina from France over NC State point guard Smith Jr.
James later stated his tweet was not aimed at the rookie or any of the current players on the New York roster, it was instead aimed towards ex-General Manager of the Knicks, Phil Jackson.
James confirmed after the game saying, “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.”
Enes Kanter, a power forward for the Knicks was interviewed Sunday night about James’ tweet in which Kanter responded, “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.”
Kanter was clearly backing up his teammate and was not afraid to do so when things got out of hand in Madison Square Garden.
The tension between the players couldn’t last much longer and just 11 minutes into the game, Ntilikina put his elbow into the chest of James after he wouldn’t move out of his way. Kanter saw this as his opportunity to step in and confront the King getting in his face exchanging all types of words. James was able to push Kanter off before the referees stepped in to break up the scuffle.
The Knicks used the scuffle and some of James’ rest time as energy to take a 13 point lead going into the second half. New York also finished the 3rd quarter with an 11 point lead.
Crunch time hit, and it was do or die for the Cavaliers who have seen their fair share of struggles to start the season, staying just below the .500 mark with a record of 6-7 in the Eastern Conference.
The Cavaliers rallied in the fourth quarter outscoring the Knickerbockers 43-25.
With 7 minutes left in regulation, the Cavs turned Madison Square Garden into their own playground, coming back from 13 down to tie the game at 97 a piece where LeBron used his actions over his words, draining a stepback three over 7’3 Knick star Kristaps Porzingis.
James hit the three and ultimately gave Cleveland their seventh win of the season, 104-101, totaling 23 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists.
James continued to flaunt his game-winning shot on Instagram, posting a picture in Madison Square Garden with the caption “King of N.Y.” The back and forth trash-talking ended after LeBron took the win on and off the court.