I love Julius Randle's thumbs down to Knicks fans and so should you
This is The Morning Win. Charles Curtis is filling in for Andy Nesbitt.
New York athletes have apparently started a trend in the sports world.
Just last August, we saw then-New York Mets infielder Javy Baez and shortstop Francisco Lindor start giving thumbs down to each other and to fans, and they told reporters it was a gesture in response to booing die-hards.
On Thursday night, we got another thumb pointed toward the floor, courtesy of New York Knicks forward Julius Randle, perhaps inspired by Baez and the Mets. He's heard his share of ire from Madison Square Garden, which, in case you're unaware, is where a bunch of the most passionate fans on Earth go and root on a a team they hope can finally - FINALLY!! - contend.
And they aren't contending, a year after they shocked the basketball world with what was thought to be a breakthrough season. They're currently 10th in the East, one game below .500, although an RJ Barrett miracle bank shot helped them beat the Boston Celtics, a much more disappointing team given their talent on paper.
I digress. Randle is still having a great season, but he's fallen off from getting MVP chants at MSG, not quite the sharpshooter he proved to be last year.
So he threw the thumbs down after a bucket on Thursday and told reporters it meant "shut the [expletive] up" to fans.
Now, as a Knicks fan - which, if you read my stuff, I very much am - I should be insulted, right? How dare he respond!
Except I'm not. And Knicks fans shouldn't be insulted either.
Let's start with any pro athlete responding to fans in some way. Let's remember that, like us, they're human. My pal Chris Korman wrote this back in August about the Mets' thumbs down:
It's easy to say Mets players should be immune to it all. They're well-paid professionals who've been through it plenty and should know the deal. But isn't it nice to know they're human? And isn't it productive for them to point out that somebody cursing their mother after striking out on a curve ball is not, in fact, the key to them learning how to hit a curveball?
We see athletes respond to fans on Twitter all the time ( hi, KD!) with the equivalent of a thumbs down. What's the difference if it's in person?
I'll add this with regards to Randle: I love it. In New York (and, frankly, this expands to everywhere) we love athletes who play with passion and fire.
And even if that fire is pointed towards the fans, it's what I hope is Randle proving he hears the boos, wants to get better and wants to let fans know he's not going to lay down and take it.
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