The New York Knicks won a thrilling game against the Boston Celtics on Thursday night. Despite trailing by as many as 25 points to their division rivals, the Knicks were able to storm back and win in front of their home crowd at Madison Square Garden thanks to a buzzer-beater by RJ Barrett.
One moment from the game has drawn a ton of attention. During the team’s comeback in the fourth quarter, Knicks All-Star Julius Randle gave the crowd at MSG a thumbs down after a made basket despite their cheering, which raised a few eyebrows. And after the game, when asked about it, Randle straight up said that he was telling them “shut the f*ck up.”
It appeared to be a way for Randle to express some frustrations about how Knicks fans have booed the team at points this season, including earlier in the game when they were getting run out of the building. In the aftermath, the Inside the NBA crew made clear that they were not fans of Randle’s actions.
“I wouldn’t do that anywhere,” Kenny Smith, a New York native, said. “New York, I could be on Mars, I’m not engaging with the 19,700 that’s in Madison Square Garden, I’m engaging with the 12 dudes on the other team.
“He shouldn’t engage with the fans, he’s too good a player, he’s an NBA All-Star, the Most Improved Player last year,” Smith went on to say. “He doesn’t have to engage with 19,000 people that really are there … they really want to cheer him. They actually want to cheer him. But when they’re not cheering and the Knicks are losing, everyone knows that that is a city that’s going to boo their team, they’re not going to cheer them on.”
Smith, Charles Barkley, and Shaquille O’Neal all spoke at length about how expressive fans in New York can be, with O’Neal saying that Randle, in particular, should not be surprised because he is the team’s best player and “heavy is the head that wears the crown.” Barkley brought up that this exact thing happened earlier in the year with New York Mets infielder Javier Baez.
“And I’m like, wait, you’re playing bad, are they supposed to cheer when you’re playing bad?” Barkley asked. “I don’t understand, as a player, this is the way this thing works. We ain’t doctors, we ain’t lawyers. If you play good, people cheer you. If you play bad, people boo you. That’s the deal you make with fans, and that’s the deal.”
The Knicks will take the floor at Madison Square Garden again on Monday, when they play host to the Spurs.