Enes Kanter suddenly defends Knicks owner James Dolan: ‘He’s a really good dude’

Ryan YoungYahoo Sports Contributor

James Dolan has taken a lot of heat in recent years.

The longtime owner of the New York Knicks has seemingly run the organization into the ground since the turn of the century. The team has reached the playoffs just four times since 2001, and hasn’t mounted a winning record since the 2012-2013 season. The Knicks had just 17 wins last year, and are off to a rough 4-15 start again this season, too.

He’s also repeatedly failed to land any marquee free agents — most notably this past summer, when he had the cap space to sign multiple players to max contracts after ditching Kristaps Porzingis in a trade to the Dallas Mavericks.

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It’s easy to understand why Enes Kanter, who played for the Knicks for a season and a half before a tumultuous ending in February, slammed the owner in September.

Yet on Sunday, following the Boston Celtics’ 113-104 win against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, Kanter appears to have changed his stance on his former owner. He gave Dolan a hug, and then praised him when talking to the media.

“We text. We are actually really cool buddies now,” Kanter said, via Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. “I got no problem with him. Some of the people can have problems with him, but I got no problem with him. 

“I will say this, it’s terrible that they blame on this guy every time. I feel that he had nothing to do with it. You just got to go out there and play basketball. He cannot just push you to go out there and play basketball. I feel like people have put blame on him and people are wrong. I feel like he’s a really good dude. And we’re buddies now. I see those eyebrows raising up.”

After blaming James Dolan for the Knicks’ struggles in free agency in September, Enes Kanter gave Dolan a hug on Sunday at Madison Square Garden. (Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
After blaming James Dolan for the Knicks’ struggles in free agency in September, Enes Kanter gave Dolan a hug on Sunday at Madison Square Garden. (Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

Kanter had publicly blamed Dolan for the Knicks’ issues

Kanter’s comments on Sunday are a pretty big change from what he said in September, when he blamed Dolan for the Knicks’ repeated struggles to land anyone in free agency.

Everyone he talked to in the league, Kanter said, was scared of Dolan.

“Other teammates that I talked to, or if they’re on different teams, they always said, ‘Amazing city, MSG is amazing, everything is so good, but the ownership,’” Kanter said on Bleacher Report’s The Full 48 podcast in September. “They would just keep saying, ‘But the ownership.’ … Some of the players I guess are just scared to come here and don’t even want to deal with [Dolan].”

Kanter said he was “very happy” when he was finally released from the Knicks, too, ending his time in New York after the team traded for and then started DeAndre Jordan over him.

He appears to be much happier now that he’s elsewhere, too. After signing a two-year deal with the Celtics this summer, Kanter has averaged 7.5 points and 6.1 rebounds off the bench so far this season in Boston — which has compiled an impressive 14-5 start.

Whatever the reason, it appears Kanter and Dolan are friends again. Whether that trend grows across the league remains to be seen.

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