Winners and losers in the extremely silly feud between LeBron James and the Knicks

The biggest storyline in the NBA so far this week has been LeBron James' ongoing feud with the New York Knicks. That feud led to some tension and entertaining drama when the Cavaliers and Knicks met on Monday night at Madison Square Garden. It was all very stupid and unnecessary, and yet we all ate it up like Thanksgiving dinner. 

The basketball world watched on with great delight as LeBron mixed it up with several Knicks players -- mainly Frank Ntilikina and Enes Kanter -- on the hardwood after causing a stir with some relatively harmless comments he made over the weekend. It wasn't a particular violent incident, but the animosity was definitely there. 

If you're not totally caught up on this big, dumb fight between the Cavs' star and the Knicks ...don't panic. We have you covered with a breakdown of winner and losers of this feud.


Winner: Dennis Smith Jr.

This entire feud was sparked when LeBron gave props to Smith Jr. after a solid game from the Mavericks' rookie point guard over the weekend. James said he "should have been a Knick" and that the Mavs "got a good one" because New York passed on him to take Frank Ntilikina. 

Smith Jr. got even more glowing praise when LeBron clarified his comments a few days later.

"I've been knowing the kid since he was 14 years old. I know what he's capable of. I wasn't throwing shade at Frank at all. People got their pants in bunches. They look for any controversy here. I was basically stating what I saw in Dennis Smith. And what I saw from him, and him coming out, and watching the draft, and thought he'd be a great fit here with Porzingis. That's not to say Frank won't be a great fit. I haven't seen much of him. I knew about him from my best friend who I went to high school with, who actually played with him overseas the last couple years."

Nothing beats free publicity and Smith Jr. has gotten plenty of it without even having to get his hands dirty throughout this whole ordeal.


Loser: LeBron James

LeBron attempted to make a simple comment about a talented young rookie and ended up having to deal with all this mess as a result. With the Cavaliers' slow start, the last thing LeBron needs is any additional headaches to sort out. Unfortunately, that's exactly what he got. 

But, with that being said, he brought it all upon himself. When you get to commenting on the roster decisions of other teams, it generally results in follow-up questions and drama. LeBron should have given his praise of DSJ and kept the Knicks out of it (at least in front of the media) but instead he opened up a whole can of worms. As a result, he sorta comes away looking a little petty, even if his intentions were innocent enough.


Winner: Frank Ntilikina 

LeBron's comments regarding Smith Jr. may have been interpreted by many as a slight at Ntilikina, but the Knicks rookie handled it all pretty well. The 19-year-old took the high road when asked about James' remarks prior to their matchup.

"I think in life people can think whatever they want," Ntilikina said one day ahead of LeBron and the Cavs visiting Madison Square Garden for their second meeting this season. "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."

But his true winning moment came on the court Monday night when Ntilikina refused to let LeBron intimidate him or stand in his way. 

Seeing a young player step up and push back when challenged by elder stars can be an encouraging sight for sports fans, and I'm sure Knicks fans are thrilled that Ntilikina remained composed and didn't back down from LeBron. 


Loser: Phil Jackson

When LeBron was forced to clarify his remarks about the Knicks screwing up when they passed on selecting Smith Jr., he made it absolutely clear that he was placing the blame on the man who made that decision -- former team president Phil Jackson.

"Oh yeah, it's definitely a shot at [Phil Jackson]. That's for sure. 

"Well when I was watching the draft, I thought they was gonna pick [Smith]. I talked about it with people that know the game, I know what Dennis Smith is capable of doing. I knew the Knicks have been looking for a point guard. I mean, am I stating things that false? No? This is facts, right? I thought they would pick [Smith], and they didn't. Like I said, it's no shade at Frank. I don't even know the kid. I wasn't even thinking about the kid when I was talking about Dennis Smith. I was just thinking about the Knicks organization, and Phil Jackson, and Dennis Smith's talent, and Porzingis. That's all I was thinking about."

Remember when Phil Jackson was considered basketball royalty? That shine has worn off and now he's just the unemployed guy who ran the Knicks (further) into the ground only to get dummied by basketball's biggest current superstar. It's a good thing he's a Zen Master.


Winner: Enes Kanter

Kanter has seemingly scored big points with Knicks fans as he's come to the defense of Ntilikina during this debacle. The veteran big man was quick to shut down LeBron's comments over the weekend. 

LeBron shrugged off Kanter's response and remarked that the center "always has something to say" and "I don't know what's wrong with him."

Kanter may have taken issue with those comments as well, because he was quick to step into the Cavs star's face during the altercation on Monday night. The big man seems to be determined to rent some real estate under LeBron's skin, as he also swiftly spat on an Instagram post from LeBron on Tuesday in which James dubbed himself the "King of New York." 

"We've already got a king," Kanter said following practice Tuesday. "It's KP. So sorry about that. We've already got a king. It's Kristaps Porzingis. Sorry about that."

KP may be the king, but Kanter is now getting credit for being the heart of the team after standing up for his guys.


Loser: Kristaps Porzingis

Yes, Kanter kindly declared him the King of New York, but Porzingis also found himself featured on what has to be the worst piece of apparel sold at the MSG team store on Monday night. A true king would get better merch than this. 


Winner: DeShaun Watson

If you're thinking to yourself, "what does the injured Texans quarterback have to do with an NBA feud," then consider this: Here's a comparison LeBron made while trying his explain his comments about Smith Jr.

"I think Deshaun Watson should be a Brown. Doesn't mean that Myles Garrett is not gonna be a great football player, but Deshaun Watson should have been our quarterback. It's the same thing. It's not shitting on the next guy. It's just that you're stating what you see."

So not only does Watson get high public praise from one of the world's top athletes, he does so without having to play for the Cleveland Browns! Doing literally anything in life without having to play for the Browns is a W in my book.


Winner: NBA

We're all talking about and enthralled with a very stupid NBA feud in the middle of November. The NBA is the greatest, most petty reality show on Earth. 

Pete Blackburn is from Boston, so there's a good chance you don't like him already. He has been a writer at CBS Sports since 2017 and usually aims to take a humorous and light-hearted approach to the often... Full Bio

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