Enes Kanter wanted to send a message to LeBron James and show him that these are not last season’s Knicks.
Kanter got into a scuffle with James during the Knicks’ 104-101 loss to the Cavaliers on Monday night at the Garden. Afterward, Kanter poked fun at James’ self-appointed nickname “The King,” changing it to the female version of royalty.
“You ain’t coming to my house and playing that water bottle flip game again,” Kanter said, referring to what James and other Cavs did during their blowout victory at the Garden last season. “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.”
James didn’t seem bothered by Kanter’s remarks.
“Well, I’m The King, my wife is The Queen and my daughter is The Princess, so we got all three covered,” he said.
This all stemmed from James taking what was perceived as a shot at rookie Frank Ntilikina when he said over the weekend that the Mavericks’ Dennis Smith Jr. “should have been a Knick.” James said it was a shot at former Knicks president Phil Jackson, who passed on Smith and took Ntilikina.
In the first quarter, Ntilikina pushed James out of the way when he was trying to inbound the ball, and Kanter came running to the rookie’s defense. Kanter and James jawed and then James pushed Kanter.
“He’s a rookie,” Kanter said. “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. 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 had no comment about the exchange between him and Kanter.
“No, nothing,” he said. “We got the win. I’m not going to say it, guys.”