Jamaal Bowman on friendly rivalry with former Knicks Enes Kanter: “He’s a class act”

Credits: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Jamaal Bowman has become a rising star in New York state politics after gaining a big advantage over longtime New York representative Eliot Engel in his last week.

Bowman’s candidacy in the House of Representatives also sparked a rivalry with former New York Knicks Enes Kanter, who supported Engel on Bowman in New York’s 16th district and appeared in a Zoom event for Engel on June 18. Bowman responded to the news of Kanter’s approval with a viral tweet that brought a direct crossroads with the worlds of basketball and political Twitter (which often collide anyway).ù

“I guess this endorsement makes sense,” tweeted Bowman. “Neither of us can play defense.”

During a conversation with MassLive on Monday, Bowman, a Knicks fan, chuckled when asked about his initial reaction to Kanter’s approval. Engel, which has not yet tendered, has raised high-powered endorsements from the likes of Hillary Clinton and Andrew Cuomo. But as Bowman noted, convincing a Boston Celtic to support a New York congressman in his re-election effort may not have been a viable political strategy.

“First of all, he doesn’t even play for the Knicks anymore, so why are you convincing someone who isn’t a New Yorker to support you?” Bowman said. “And the second thought was what I tweeted about his lack of defense and frustrations as a Knicks fan about his lack of defense.”

The rivalry between Kanter and Bowman has never appeared particularly controversial. On Monday Bowman called Kanter “a class act” and a “boy standing”.

Kanter, meanwhile, replied to Bowman’s initial tweet by offering a 1 on 1 game (“Tell me when and where, and I’ll do it”). Bowman later reacted with a video of himself helping in his New York community, which ended with the filming of a child in one of Kanter’s fields dripping between Kanter’s legs and going to make a lay- up. To that tweet, Kanter replied crying laughing emoji and wrote “No chance !! I’m blocking that shot.”