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Enes Kanter Is the Teammate of the Year

Because he values FAMILY above all, and because he recognizes only one king

Enes Kanter flexes his arms to celebrate a shot Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

One day after LeBron James hovered over 19-year-old Frank Ntilikina, New York’s boy wonder, in Madison Square Garden with such menace that the play ended with the NBA’s favorite enforcer-in-training, Enes Kanter, stepping in, Kanter was checking LeBron again.

For reference, LeBron was trying to intimidate a rookie — one who already had lightly browned, not-quite-cooked beef with James after he said New York should’ve drafted Dennis Smith Jr. instead:

“You’re welcome,” James captioned an Instagram post Tuesday, the day after his Cavaliers came back from a 23-point deficit to top the Knicks, 104–101. LeBron’s post was a picture of him midcourt at the Garden, standing on the Knicks’ logo much like he stood over Frankie Smokes the night before. “[Crown emoji] of NY” is how he finished the caption, hashtagging (props to LeBron for being social media’s last known hashtagger) #myfavoriteplayground.

You're welcome.. of NY #myfavoriteplayground #striveforgreatness

A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

Playground. A place for play. King of New York.

Kanter wouldn’t have it.

“We already have a king,” he told reporters Tuesday. “It’s Kristaps Porzingis.”

Cleveland teammates attempted to back up LeBron’s antics … I think. Channing Frye, Dwyane Wade, Iman Shumpert, and Isaiah Thomas all posted pictures of the cartoon character Arthur on Instagram with the caption “Mood,” a callback to LeBron’s post last week, furthering my suspicion that none of the Cavaliers understand what that meme, or any meme, means.

Kanter supports his squad flawlessly and openly, without coded Instagrams. It’s never about Kanter, including his time in Oklahoma City. It’s about “family.” He tweeted, “I FREAKING LOVE MY FAMILY” after the loss with a picture of the Knicks’ huddle. On September 19, still on the Thunder, he tweeted an indirect response to Kevin Durant’s burner accounts criticizing the Thunder: “We win-We lose but the most important thing we stick together because we are one. And those cats, I call them FAMILY.” (I personally love the caps for emphasis.) After Kanter was traded, four days after that Oklahoma City “FAMILY” tweet, he called the community family again and told them to “Please beat the Warriors. Please. I’m going to be watching that game so please beat the Warriors for me.”

Most recently, after LeBron’s Dennis Smith Jr. comments, Kanter responded (on Twitter, where else):

Enes “Can’t Play” Kanter — who doesn’t necessarily have the Knicks’ back protecting the rim — has it in every other way. It’s an early ballot, but mine is cast: teammate of the year.