LeBron James took shot at Phil Jackson not Frank Ntilikina

Nov 9, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) warms up before a game against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week, Cleveland Cavaliers superstar forward LeBron James made some headlines when he said that the New York Knicks shouldn’t have passed on rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr., who was eventually drafted by the Dallas Mavericks.

“The Knicks passed on a really good one, and Dallas got the diamond in the rough,” James told reporters on Saturday. “He should be a Knick. That’s going to make some headlines, but he should be a Knick. Dallas is definitely, I know they’re excited that he didn’t go there.”

Some took this as a shot at the player the Knicks did draft, defensive-minded point guard Frank Ntilikina. With the Knicks and Cavaliers set to play on Monday evening, James has since clarified his comments, saying that he didn’t mean to “throw any shade” toward New York’s rookie point guard. However, James did admit that his words were meant to slam former Knicks president Phil Jackson, the man who drafted Ntilikina.

“Oh yeah, it’s definitely a shot at him,” James said when asked about Jackson.

This is not the first spat between the Cavaliers superstar and the former Knicks front office executive. In 2016, Jackson referred to James’ business partners as his “posse.” James questioned whether or not the characterization had racial undertones.

The Knicks, meanwhile, are perfectly happy with who Jackson drafted, even if he’s not around anymore. Additionally, Ntilikina isn’t going to spend much time thinking about what James said.

“I think in life people can think whatever they want,” Ntilikina said. “However, it’s not gonna affect us and me, so whatever is said, whatever people think, me and the team are just focused on what we’re doing every day to improve and just to make us better.”

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