Former New York Knicks center Enes Kanter was the difference in Portland’s victory and following the game, he took a shot at his former team.
Love him or hate him, there’s no denying former New York Knicks center Enes Kanter was an absolute beast on Sunday. His 20 points and 18 rebounds were key in pushing the Portland Trail Blazers past the Oklahoma City Thunder.
He secured a few crucial offensive rebounds down the stretch to solidify the win and help the Blazers take the first game of what should be a back-and-forth series. Moreover, he survived against the pick-and-roll—his greatest weakness as a defender.
Kanter won’t face the Knicks at any point in the playoffs, but his former team is still at the forefront of his mind. Following his standout performance in the Blazers’ victory over the Thunder on Sunday, Kanter criticized “the worst team in the league.”
Blazers' Enes Kanter (20 points, 18 rebounds) after Game 1 win over Thunder on turnaround since Knicks tenure: "I was on the worst team in the leauge and I wasn't even playing because they thought I was too old. … I feel blessed." pic.twitter.com/8iiQCwxMeC
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) April 14, 2019
“I was on the worst team in the league, and I wasn’t even playing because they thought I was too old to play,” Kanter told reporters after Game 1. “… It was so frustrating because I just wanted to go out there and win.
“Couple days ago I looked in the mirror and said, ‘Man, I’m blessed to just be here with an amazing organization and amazing teammates.’”
Obviously, Kanter still holds resentment towards his former team for benching him in favor of the younger Luke Kornet. Plenty of people performed mental gymnastics to convince themselves that Kornet is a better player than Kanter. Of course, Kanter is a far better player and Sunday proved as much.
That being said, Kanter leaving New York was best for everyone involved. He was able to sign with Portland and now he’s the team’s starting center after they lost Jusuf Nurkic for the season.
For the Knicks, they no longer had to deal with the headache that benching Kanter brought. Furthermore, they were able to prioritize
the tank the development of the younger players on the team.
There’s no doubt, Kanter’s comments are petty. He doesn’t need to take a shot at his former team, but he’s always played with that chip on his shoulder. Once upon a time, that fire endeared Kanter to the Knicks crowd.