Enes Kanter is not the most popular man in Utah. The former Jazz big man returned to Salt Lake City on Saturday as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, and he told reporters that he was frustrated throughout his three-and-a-half-year tenure with the organization. Kanter implied that the franchise was unprofessional and said that the only thing he missed about Utah was the mountains.
Playing the part of a wrestling heel, Kanter soaked up the boos when he was introduced as an Oklahoma City Thunder starter. Then he put up 18 points and 11 rebounds in the 94-89 Oklahoma City loss. Cue ex-teammate Trevor Booker's postgame reaction:
"He got his stats and he got the L as always" -- Trevor Booker on post game interview on Jazz radio.— David Locke (@Lockedonsports) March 29, 2015
Trevor Booker on Enes Kanter: He did what he always does. He got his stats. He didn't defend. He took an L (a loss)— Tony Jones (@Tjonessltrib) March 29, 2015
That shot from Booker was aimed perfectly. The knock on Kanter has always been that, while gifted with the ball in the post, his subpar defense just about cancels it out. Since the Jazz traded him, they have had the best defensive rating in the NBA. Kanter, meanwhile, has averaged 17.6 points and 10.8 rebounds per game for the Thunder, but the team has given up 108.4 points per 100 possesions when he's on the court, per NBA.com.
"I think it definitely was a little personal for all of us," Hayward said after the Jazz’s emotional 94-89 win over Kanter and OKC. "It is what it is. If he feels one way, that’s fine. I think it kind of hyped us up a little bit, gave us a little extra incentive. I think it pissed us off a little bit. I think it pissed the fans off, obviously, with the booing. They were tremendous tonight."
From the moment Kanter was reintroduced to the EnergySolutions crowd — and every time he touched the ball after that — the sellout crowd of 19,911 let him hear it.
Kanter might have liked to hear more.
"I don’t really care," he said. "I like pressure. That didn’t mean nothing to me. I really don’t care if they boo me. Every time I touched the ball they boo me. I like it better. I like the pressure."
The loss bumped OKC back to 41-32, with a two-and-a-half-game lead on the New Orleans Pelicans for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. Kanter will likely experience the playoffs before the young and rapidly improving Jazz do, but this could turn into a rivalry over the next few years.