Enes Kanter, You Gained My Respect Last Night

Enes Kanter vs. LeBron James was the matchup I thought I didn’t need, but now, it’s must-see TV. To do a quick recap, the saga of Enes vs. LeBron started a few days ago when LeBron made these comments about Dennis Smith Jr. and how the Knicks passed on him.

Without any context, you might guess that was a shot at our French Prince, Frank Ntilikina, which is totally uncalled for. However, LeBron later clarified it was a shot at Phil Jackson.

Do I think LeBron was taking a shot at Frankie Nicotine? No, I don’t think so. But there was ZERO reason to make the comment about Smith and the Knicks. It was so unprovoked. I get it that he has a grudge with Phil Jackson (who doesn’t) but there’s a time and place and that wasn’t it especially if you’re not going to call out Phil directly. You may have said it’s not a shot at Frank, but don’t get upset when most basketball fans including myself see it as a cheap shot. Worry about your own team’s struggles. Frank is just fine in NY.

Anyway, LeBron’s comments were obviously a popular topic of conversation leading up to last night’s game. Someone had to call LeBron out and that man was Enes Kanter.

“I don’t care who, I just cannot let anyone disrespect my family like that, because when I play for an organization, I see my teammates and that organization as like a family,” Knicks big man Enes Kanter said on Sunday, via ESPN’s Ian Begley. “And it doesn’t matter if it’s LeBron or whoever it is, I cannot just let him disrespect him like that. The coaches, the GMs, the president, this organization knows what they’re doing. … I mean, come on. That’s a rookie. You cannot just say anything like that about him.”

Fuck yeah, Kanter. That’s how you come to the defense of your teammate. That’s an older guy taking care of a rookie. Frankly, this toughness and “never back down” attitude is something the Knicks haven’t had in awhile.

Fast forward to the game.

LETS GO BOYS. Once again, just unnecessary on LeBron’s part again. Just get out of the way. You’re the best player in the league. No need to take another jab at Frankie. But, as Zinger has said before, this team has that “New York grit.” Frank has some stones on him at such a young age and as a fan, you have to appreciate that. Once again, Kanter coming to the defense of Frank was awesome. Kanter pulled a page out of Dan Devine’s playbook from Rudy.

Then, Kanter and LeBron still went at it in the postgame.

I’ll tell you what. Enes Kanter, you gained my complete and utter respect last night. I knew you could play, but I didn’t know you had this toughness and loyalty to your team. You are EXACTLY what this Knicks team needs. Despite being 25 years old (that’s crazy), Kanter has taken on a huge leadership role and has added a much needed spark to the Bockers. Plus, going 20 and 16 last night never hurts as well.

Yes, we lost last night, but the Knicks are trending upwards. This heart and intensity is something we haven’t seen since 2012-2013. Zinger is playing like an MVP. Frank is showing signs of promise at such a young age. Hardaway is earning his money. Kanter is not backing down from anyone. This team is fun, exciting, and putting the passion back into Madison Square Garden.

The Knicks may not win a title this year, but they are going to compete night in and night out, which is fine by me.

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