NEW YORK — Julius Randle apologized in a statement to his Instagram account on Friday, saying his thumbs-down gesture to Knicks fans during Thursday’s win over the Boston Celtics, as well as his post-game comments “were an example of how sometimes you say things you regret the people you love.”
“I just want to send our fans a quick message and be clear: I love NYC and being part of this team and this franchise,” Randle wrote. “And like most Knicks fans, I’m really passionate about being successful.
“My family and I love how the fans and New Yorkers have embraced and accepted us and made us feel good about our decision to commit to the team for the long term last summer. This support means the world to us .
“I understand that my actions also represent the league, this organization and the city, and that I should have handled things differently last night and expressed myself in the heat of the day with more professionalism and more appropriate language. My comment was an example. of how you sometimes say things you regret to people you love, even if it came from a place of passion and deep love.
“No one wants to win more than I do and I will continue to show loyalty and dedication to my teammates, the entire Knicks organization and the fans who have shown so much love to me and my family. I will continue to focus on the future.” “
Randle gave fans at Madison Square Garden, who had booed during the early part of the game, a thumbs down after laying out midway through the fourth quarter of New York’s come-from-behind victory, and he appeared to be his shaking their head after the crowd chanted “MVP” a minute later.
When asked after the game what he meant with his thumbs to the fans, Randle said bluntly, “Shut up.”
Randle was also blunt on Wednesday after the Knicks practiced at Westchester when he was asked what he thought of the negativity surrounding him this season.
“I really don’t give a fuck what anyone has to say, to be honest,” Randle said. “I’m playing there. Nobody knows the game there better than I do, compared to what everyone has to say.
“So I don’t give a shit. I’m just going out to play.”
Randle’s thumbs down gesture was immediately noticed by what happened to the New York Mets this summer, when short stop Javier Baez hit a home run and gave the crowd at Citi Field a few thumbs down. Baez later said his gesture was in response to the way fans treated him and his teammates throughout the season.
Randle set career highs in several categories last season, including scoring, rebounds, assists, 3-point field goal percentage, and free-throw percentage, signing this off-season four-year, $117 million extension.
This year, however, was very different. Randle’s production is down, especially his 3-point shot, which is more than 8 percent lower than last season.
New York will face Boston again on Saturday, this time on the road. The Knicks have won seven of their last 11 games — including 7 of the 9 Randle has played — and are ranked 10th in the Eastern Conference.