Just over four months after former Mets infielder Javier Baez flashed the signal to the Flushing faithful, Knicks star forward Julius Randle showed a big thumbs-down to fans at Madison Square Garden during the fourth quarter of his team’s remarkable 25-point comeback victory over the Boston Celtics.
It doesn’t take much to decipher what it means, but Randle didn’t hold back when clarifying after the Knicks’ 108-105 thrilling win.
“Shut the f— up,” Randle said.
The Knicks had been beaten down by Boston in the opening two quarters, falling behind as much as 57-32 in the second quarter, prompting the boo birds to come out.
On the comeback trail midway through the fourth quarter, Randle made a layup and ran back up the floor while flashing the thumbs-down.
— Phil (@PhilipDamiano) January 7, 2022
“You saw that,” he added while explaining why he did it. “You saw what was going on out there.”
Randle and the Knicks have been criticized as of late. After starting the season 5-1, they won just nine of their next 26 games.
As the face of the franchise following a breakout, All-Star campaign last year, Randle has received plenty of the heat as his statline has sagged — especially from three-point range (41.1% in 2020-21 vs. 32.4% this year).
It prompted the 27-year-old to address such criticism on Wednesday after the team shootaround.
“I really don’t give a f— what anybody has to say, to be honest,” Randle said. “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.”
Randle’s thumbs-down was a spitting image of Baez’s rebuttal to fans getting on the Mets during a miserable stretch in August. After hitting a home run in the fourth inning of a 9-4 win over the San Diego Padres on Aug. 29, Baez stepped on home plate and flashed two thumbs down.
While he reconciled with the fan base — who proceeded to boo him after the incident — and put together a strong few months with the Mets after being acquired from the Chicago Cubs, he signed with the Detroit Tigers as a free agent in November.
Randle isn’t going anywhere any time soon, and Knicks fans don’t forget. Needless to say, their reception of him at Madison Square Garden on Monday against the San Antonio Spurs will be something to watch.
“He probably wasn’t happy about [the booing],” Evan Fournier said of his teammate. “Honestly, no big deal. If I were him, playing hard as hell and [playing] well … when you give everything you have into something and you give so much into something and it doesn’t work out or you’re being called out, it’s frustrating.”