UK Men's Basketball

Boos, cheers, social media scrutiny: Knox says UK prepared him for New York fishbowl

The New York Knicks chose Kentucky’s Kevin Knox with the No. 9 pick in this year’s NBA Draft, a selection initially met with boos. Those boos turned to cheers when Knox averaged 21.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in the Las Vegas Summer League.
The New York Knicks chose Kentucky’s Kevin Knox with the No. 9 pick in this year’s NBA Draft, a selection initially met with boos. Those boos turned to cheers when Knox averaged 21.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in the Las Vegas Summer League. AP

Beginning with the NBA Draft, Kevin Knox’s professional basketball career has included being booed, exciting fans with his play in a summer league and causing an Internet storm with a posting on Instagram.

Knox has yet to participate in his first preseason training camp with the Knicks. Welcome to New York.

“A lot of guys have told me to stay off social media,” Knox said Wednesday before participating in the John Calipari Draft Academy camp in Lexington. “New York just kind of tries to tell you everything you say on social media and (then) just change it up and make it seem so bad.

“I talked to a lot of social media guys (who) told me to stay a little off social media because they’re just going to try to attack you.”

Knox posted on Instagram a reaction to a workout video featuring former Knicks star Carmelo Anthony. “Melo win MVP every year if he played like this during season,” Knox wrote.

A seemingly stinging critique from an 18-year-old rookie led to much online chatter. It was all overblown, Knox suggested.

“No big deal,” he said. “Me and Carmelo don’t have no beef or anything like that.”

Of course, fans booed the Knicks’ selection of Knox at the June NBA Draft, which was in Brooklyn. Then Knox’s productive, dunk-filled play in the Las Vegas-based summer league caused a 180-degree change of perception.

“Yeah, some of those boos probably turned into cheers . . . ,” Knox said. “The fans, you really don’t pay attention to none of that. I’m glad I’ve got them on (my) side.”

Photos of Kevin Knox from the 2017-2018 Kentucky basketball season. Music: www.bensound.com

Knox said his play in the summer league reflected the work he put into offseason workouts, which began a few days after UK’s season ended.

“I think it was just a glimpse of what I’ve really been working on and what I can do,” he said of his summer league play. “I’ll get back to work soon with the Knicks’ coaching staff and player development guys and get ready for the season.”

Knicks’ Coach David Fizdale wants him to be “aggressive at all times,” Knox said.

Playing for Kentucky last season helped prepare him for the constant over-reaction that comes with being part of a high-profile program, Knox said. Playing in New York represented “a great opportunity,” he said.

“One of the biggest cities in the world as far as basketball,” he said. “The media is going to be crazy. The fans are going to be crazy. But I came to Kentucky for a reason.”

Knox said the UK coaches “did a really good job of just making sure we played really well under pressure, and I think that’s kind of where I’m going to do well at in New York.

“Here at Kentucky, playing big-time games all the time, people watching you on a big stage, that’s kind of what I wanted. I’m looking forward to playing in Madison Square Garden.”

Knox spoke to reporters Wednesday alongside former UK teammate Jarred Vanderbilt, who wore a protective boot on his right foot.

Having watched practices since returning to Lexington for the camp, both players spoke of good things ahead for UK next season.

“Got guys who can really shoot the ball,” Knox said. “Got a lot of leaders on the team this year, so I think they’re really going to have a good year this year.”

Vanderbilt said he saw “a lot of competitive nature” in Kentucky’s practices. “I feel they’ve got great pieces that complement each other,” he said. “This year they’ve got experience. I think that will take them a long way.”

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