LeBron James is never afraid to speak his mind or send a verbal jab or two someone’s way when he feels it appropriate. Sometimes, that means calling the president “U bum” on Twitter. Other times, it’s taking a shot at Phil Jackson by saying Mavericks rookie Dennis Smith Jr. should be on the Knicks after the Cavs faced Smith and Dallas.
That comment had the unintended effect of being seen as a slight against Knicks rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina, who was selected over Smith in last summer’s draft. Kristaps Porzingis and Enes Kanter were quick to come to their young point guard’s side, and with the Cavs in town the next night, LeBron found himself explaining the misunderstanding of his comment. James said he just wanted it to be a joke at Phil Jackson’s expense and didn’t intend for it to be a knock on Ntilikina.
James also said he didn’t even really know much about Ntilikina, but that he had an old friend who played with him in France tell him he’s good. That old friend happens to be his high school teammate Romeo Travis, who was quick to call LeBron about the situation to try and clear things up.
Travis played with Ntilikina in the French League and told Marc Berman of the New York Post that he called James to vouch for Ntilikina and make sure LeBron wasn’t taking a shot at the rookie.
“I reached out to LeBron to make sure there was no hard feelings between Frank and him and let him know Frank was my guy,” Travis said. “[LeBron] said it’s not personal between them. He’s just so positive about Dennis Smith and negative toward the Knicks front office.”
While it didn’t stop a minor dustup on the court between James and Ntilikina (and Kanter), all seems to be well when it comes to the rookie from France and James, with Travis helping mediate peace and ensure this was just about taking a jab at Jackson and the Knicks. James loves to troll the Knicks and has long enjoyed playing in Madison Square Garden, all the while showing no real interest in doing so in a New York uniform.