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Who Gets The Thumbs Down Between Fans and Julius Randle?

Randle's thumbs down to the NY crowd begs the question: should players react and should fans boo?

Madison Square Garden sure has built a reputation of players rising to the occasion when they're being jeered. Just ask Spike Lee. Nobody knew this talented building could also do it to incite their own players.

You can see this in the video. Knicks forward Julius Randle gives Madison Square Garden the thumbs down after scoring two points with just over five minutes left in the fourth quarter of a game between the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics.

When the Knicks were down by 20 points in the 3rd quarter, the boo-birds were out in full effect. 

New York sports fans can be the harshest fanbase not located in Philadelphia. My wife, a Philadelphia Phillies fan, said that when their teams win championships they start "small celebratory fires." Imagine Philly or New York fans when they lose? Randle and the Knicks were getting all the smoke. From that point, the Knicks went on a tear, coming back to win the game 108-105. 


NBA on TNT is a basketball institution. The boys at TNT had some thoughts about Randle's thumbs-down gesture, especially Charles Barkley.

"I've never understood why players think you're supposed to get cheered when you're playing bad. I have you're going to get booed when you're playing bad, and you're going to get cheered when you win. Are they supposed to cheer when you're playing bad?"

If I am giving my own opinion, the answer is yes. I've never gone to a game of a team I root for and not cheered them on, even when they're losing. The logic of booing a team when they're losing is faulty because no sports team is going to win 100% of their games. 

In that line of reason, booing your team is truly illogical, and it's just a bad look. Exceptions exist. A team that consistently underachieves is due for some tough love. One could make the point that the Knicks fall under this exception. 

Randle Off The Handle

Did Randle clarify his gesture by meeting the fans halfway? Absolutely not.

“I really don’t give a f--- what anybody has to say, to be honest,” he said, according to The Athletic. “I’m out there playing. Nobody knows the game out there better than I do, compared to what everybody has to say. So I really don’t give a s---. I just go out there and play.”

Yikes. Randle went in the other direction. The fans shouldn't always boo the players, but Randle responding by doubling down shows a lack of awareness of where he plays and what game he's playing. Players can't give in to the behaviors of fans. If Randle lets the fans get in his head, what does that say about his strength of temperament on the road? Not a great look.

New York Fans Eat Crow

Randle does play in New York, however, and this is not the first time in the last year that New York fans have upset players of their team. 

Last August, in the same inning that the Mets fans mercilessly boo their own player, Javier Baez, he drives in a run and has the presence of mind to make a brilliant baserunning play to win the game for the fans. Every single Met fan that booed was undeserving of the joy of that win. If we're going to hold players accountable for their poor fan interactions, the fans deserve the ire as well.

It is bewildering for Knicks fans to boo their team as if they're entitled to winning teams. The last time the New York Knickerbockers won a championship, Phil Jackson played for the team and Led Zeppelin was still touring. Randle's abrasive quotes are bad, but Knicks fans didn't help the situation.

Two Thumbs In Opposing Directions

These occurrences and ironies lead the answer to a double-edged sword. Should fans boo their teams? Go ahead, but the consequences are big. Baez preferred to sign a deal with the Detroit Tigers. The Knicks have been an upside-down mess for decades. Wanting superstars to play for a team has to be about more than just the money.

Players should know that any reaction given to the fans is gasoline on a fire. It is hilarious that the Knicks ended up winning that game because Randle should know better. The best response Randle could give was for the Knicks to win. The fans will certainly stop booing after a W.