The morning after James engineered a fourth-quarter comeback in a road win over the Knicks, he published a post on Instagram suggesting that he was the king of the Big Apple.
Kanter, who had to be separated from James during a skirmish in Monday night’s loss to the Cavs, said James can’t hold that title.
“We’ve already got a king; it’s Kristaps Porzingis,” Kanter said at practice on Tuesday. “Sorry about that.”
Kanter delivered the line with a smile but quickly added that the Knicks needed to move on from the recent back-and-forth with James.
“I think [we need to] kind of forget about this, play our game because we have one tomorrow, just have to get back on track,” the center said.
James first angered Kanter and the rest of the Knicks over the weekend when he said New York made a mistake in not drafting Mavericks point guard Dennis Smith Jr.
The implication was that the Knicks picked the wrong player in point guard Frank Ntilikina, whom the club selected eighth overall, one spot ahead of Smith Jr.
Kanter and the Knicks took umbrage to James’ draft comments. They defended Ntilikina publicly before the Cavs game.
James, though, said on Monday that he meant no disrespect to Ntilikina. He said that his critique was a shot at then-Knicks president Phil Jackson. He also laughed off the criticism from Kanter, in particular.
“For Enes Kanter, who always got something to say,” James said on Monday morning. “He says … I don’t know what’s wrong with him.”
The back-and-forth between James, Kanter and the Knicks spilled over to the court on Monday night.
Late in the first quarter, James crowded Ntilikina after an alley-oop dunk and prevented him from receiving an inbounds pass. Ntilikina shoved James away and a few Knicks, including Kanter and Courtney Lee, came over to intervene. Kanter and James stood face-to-face for a few moments and were assessed double technical fouls.
“We all got Frank’s back, we all got each other’s back,” Kanter said Tuesday. “That’s what we’re playing for. I’m saying this — it’s us against the world. As soon as you step on that court, we’ve got no friends.”
The brief skirmish between James and Kanter was all a footnote in the end because the Cavs came back from a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit to win the game.
James engineered the comeback with seven points and eight assists in the fourth quarter — many of which were to Kyle Korver (19 points in the fourth quarter).
After the win, James took another dig at Jackson, who was removed as team president in late June. He said the Knicks (7-6) were playing well, in part, because Jackson didn’t influence how the club ran its offense anymore.
“I think Jeff, the coach, Jeff Hornacek is finally — with the release of the old fella, he’s finally allowed to implement what he wants to do on the team and he’s showing it’s very effective,” James said, smiling as he said “old fella,” a reference to Jackson.
James, though, didn’t want to address the on-court incident with Kanter after the game.
“Nothing,” he said. “We got the win. I’m not going to get, uh, I’m not going to say that guy’s name again, anyway.”