The New York Knicks may have lost yet again in their first game back from the All-Star break, but RJ Barrett had the game of his life. Playing for the first time since February 8, the former No. 3 overall pick lit up the Heat with a career-high 46 points on 13-of-22 shooting.
Along the way, Barrett — who also hit six threes and grabbed nine boards over 37 minutes of play — hit the record books. Specifically, he followed Carl Braun as just the second player in Knicks history aged 21 or younger to drop 40 in a game.
Barrett’s big effort wasn’t just the silver lining during an otherwise dismal affair. It was a ray of hope for the Big Apple’s basketball future. At the least, that’s how Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo saw it.
In the wake of the Knicks star’s offensive explosion, Miami’s cornerstones sent a strong message about what the future holds for him.
Butler & Adebayo Speak out on RJ’s Big Night
After his team pulled out the 115-100 win, Butler was asked about Barrett’s outburst during his postgame media availability. The six-time All-Star made it clear that the effort had made a major impression on him.
“Man, he was attacking every chance he got — in transition, getting to the cup, getting to the free-throw line, making the three-ball,” he said. “Like, he had a hell of a game; all-around game at that. But, we all know that he’s capable of that. I don’t think anybody is surprised or should be surprised.”
Butler then served up a major endorsement of Barrett’s skills and his future in the Association.
“He’ll definitely be playing in this league for a long time and he’s going to be the face of the Knicks.”
For his part, former All-Star Bam Adebayo was similarly taken aback by what he saw from the youngster.
“It’s confidence. You can see it in his body language, you can see it in his face. He wants to be him, he wants to be that guy. You can see he wants to take his team to another level… He’s playing free,” said the big man.
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Barrett Responds to the Praise
During his own media session, Barrett was informed about what the Heat stars had said about his night and his career path. Clearly, the comments struck a chord with him.
“It definitely means a lot, coming from — especially guys like those… Jimmy, who has played for [Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau] and Bam,” he said.
“I remember being at the Jordan Brand Classic with Bam. He was older, so he was in the bigger game and I was in the international one. I just remember being around him and Jayson Tatum and De’Aaron Fox and all those guys. So, it’s just cool to hear that from someone like him.”