Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek was fully behind rookie PG Frank Ntilikina sticking up for himself against LeBron James of the Cavaliers on Monday at Madison Square Garden.
"I thought it was great,'' Hornacek said on MSG's "The Jeff Hornacek Experience", according to Marc Berman of the NY Post. "When we played back in the day, there was a lot of that. So you don't see as much now in today's game."
Hornacek also praised Enes Kanter's reaction on the court to the altercation between Ntilikina and James, and Kanter's overall leadership thus far.
"He's trying to do the best for the guys on his squad," Hornacek said. "You gotta love a guy like that, especially in New York."
The on-court issue between Ntilikina and James on Monday came after James threw down alley-oop dunk. James stood over Ntilikina, who was trying to pick up the ball to inbound. Ntilikina didn't like it, and started pushing James off of him.
This riled up both teams as Knicks SG Courtney Lee got in the middle of both players, and Kanter got in James' face to exchange some words.
Well that didn't take long ... pic.twitter.com/bIruU6NIZL- SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 14, 2017
There was beef between James and the Knicks heading into the game. James said the Knicks passed on a great rookie in PG Dennis Smith, Jr., and the comments were taken by the Knicks as he has no respect for Ntilikina. At shootaround, the Cavs star made it clear that his comments were pointed at former team president, Phil Jackson, and not Ntilikina.
"For somebody to go in the media and say something about him -- or say it wasn't about him -- I mean, he took it personal," Lee told ESPN's Ian Begley of Ntilikina. "And that's what all competitors do. So, he was fired up and ready to play."
Despite the double techincal foul that was called for the incident, the Knicks made it known that they will back each other up no matter the opponent.
"It showed the chemistry of the team, our thinking," Ntilikina said. "We'll fight together in all our games. It was good to have them right here and they know I'll be here for them. That's just how we are."