The beef between Enes Kanter and LeBron James is well-documented, but the exact root of it is something of an unknown.
Yes, part of their squabble is just for fun. NBA players are entertaining that way. But while speaking with ESPN.com’s Royce Young, Kanter explained that the crux of his issues with James began because of a water bottle and Frank Ntilikina:
With LeBron, it was weird because when I was with the Thunder I remember watching games, highlights when the Cavs were blowing out the Knicks at MSG. And then they started playing the “bottle flip” game. I was like, “This is disrespectful, man … this is messed up.”
And then it was the first game I was with the Knicks and then he came and before the game he said we should’ve drafted Dennis Smith Jr. And not just me, but most of our guys felt like it was disrespectful to Frank [Ntilikina] and we actually sat down with Frank and talked to him and said, “Hey you gotta step up for yourself, man.”
Then I was in the game and they were pushing each other and I’m like, “This is a 19-year-old kid against a 260-pound dude. This is not fair.” So I get in there and we were face-to-face and we trash-talked a little bit. After the game I called him “queen” or “princess” or whatever.
As a real quick note, this entire question-and-answer sessions is fantastic. You should give it a read. Kanter touches on everything, including his transition to an outlaw in Turkey. I encourage you to check out that section.
As another aside, Kanter’s “princess” jab at James remains stupid. Using female identifiers to communicate insults and general inferiority remains archaic and dumb and then stupid again.
Overall, though, Kanter’s beef with James seems to be pretty justified. The Frank Ntilikina element particularly legitimizes it. He was but a teenage rookie last season, and here he had LeBron James, the greatest player ever, saying the Knicks never should’ve chose him. Granted, LeBron’s sentiments were more aimed at propping up Dennis Smith Jr. and perhaps chopping down Phil Jackson—both valid premises. But it’s still nice that Kanter appears to be a loyal teammate. The Knicks, at least for this season, can use that kind of commitment-by-example as they dive deeper into their rebuild.