LeBron James: Criticism of Knicks was a shot at Phil Jackson, no one else
LeBron James on Monday morning clarified some critical comments recently made about the New York Knicks by saying his hit job on the team’s draft this year was a shot at former boss Phil Jackson and no one else.
James, whose Cleveland Cavaliers face the Knicks Monday night at Madison Square Garden, opined on Sunday that New York should have drafted Dallas Mavericks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. in the 2017 NBA Draft instead of Frank Ntilikina with the eighth-overall pick. Smith was drafted by the Mavs with the next pick.
“The Knicks passed on a really good one,” James said after the Cavaliers beat Smith the Mavericks by a score 111-104 on Saturday.
Many not surprisingly took note to James’ slight. And Knicks center Enes Kanter were among the Knicks players who took offense to the comments. But the Cavaliers superstar insists his shot was solely intended for Jackson, who was fired by the Knicks this past offseason.
“Oh yeah, it’s definitely a shot at him,” James said, via Cleveland.com. “That’s for sure. … I wasn’t even thinking about the kid when I was talking about Dennis Smith. I was thinking about the Knicks organization, and Phil Jackson at the time, and Dennis Smith’s talent, and (Kristaps) Porzingis. That’s all I was thinking about.”
James has never hidden his disdain for Jackson, especially in the wake of Zen Master disparaging James’ inner circle by referring to them as a “posse” last season.
“I’m not a fan of Phil Jackson,” James said. “I think you guys already know that. Let’s not, that’s the past though. He’s not even here anymore.”
James’ attempt to clarify his comments in all likelihood will put an end to any beef between himself and the Knicks. It’s not like anyone within the Knicks organization harbors much love for Jackson given the level of dysfunction he had cultivated before he was finally sent packing.