James said he wasn't being critical of Ntilikina and doesn't even know him.
James, whose Cavs face the Knicks on Monday night, said he wanted to clarify his remarks for "people who just live in a box and for Enes Kanter, who always got something to say". "I don't know why he made those comments".
"I wasn't throwing shade at Frank at all, for people that got their trousers in bunches and things of that nature here in NY, that look for any controversy here", the Cavaliers superstar said.
"They're both great young players", Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said. "It's just that you're stating what you see".More news: IPhone X really hates British weather
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The selection of Ntilikina did generate some criticism initially; many observers assumed Jackson favored the bigger, more defensive-minded guard over Smith or Kentucky's Malik Monk because he'd be a better fit in Jackson's favored and much-maligned triangle offense - a system the Knicks would largely abandon after Jackson's departure. I wasn't here, so I don't know the insights and everything. We're competitors and we try to get all the wins we can get. I can not just let (James) disrespect (Ntilikina) like that. I've been with him for so long now.
The Mavs rookie has been one of the lone bright spots for this struggling unit, averaging 14.2 points, 4.9 assists, and 3.6 rebounds per game.
"I think in life people can think whatever they want", Ntilikina said.
"I don't care, it doesn't matter LeBron or whoever it is".
Asked whether he had anything to prove to the rest of the National Basketball Association, he added: "I don't have to prove to them, I have to prove to myself". It's all about me and it's all about the team.