LeBron James has bullied the Knicks during his 15-year N.B.A. career. He’s dominated them on the court and rejected them in free agency. He helped turn a generation of stars against their team president and eliminated them from the playoffs.
The Knicks, enfeebled for most of the past two decades, have been unable to push back.
But Monday night, in the final minute of the first quarter, the Knicks showed a backbone, and the display of defiance came from a rookie: Frank Ntilikina. As James hovered over him following a dunk, Ntilikina drove his shoulder in his torso, then grazed him again as he walked past.