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Knicks’ Randle apologizes for giving fans thumbs down, saying it meant “shut the f*** up”

The Knicks rallied from a 25-point deficit to beat Boston, who gave up a comeback of at least 19 points and lost for the fourth time this season, and yet the main story is Julius Randle telling Knicks fans to "shut up."

Knicks fans were frustrated. Their underachieving team this season came out and got down 25 in the first half to the Celtics — and Knicks fans let them know about it. There were boos.

Julius Randle remembered that, and when the Knicks stormed back in the fourth quarter — and eventually won dramaticallyRandle gave the fans a thumbs down. When asked about it after the game, Randle said it meant “shut the f*** up.”

That went over as well as you would expect (Randle could have asked some New York Mets players how the gesture plays out – and Friday Randle apologized via Instagram.

Professional athletes should not expect unconditional love from fans. Especially high IQ fans, like you get in Madison Square Garden — they know good basketball when they see it, and they haven’t seen it much this season. So the fans expressed their frustration. As is their right.

Those fans are also emotionally invested, often in a way players are not — this is not a business for them, this is a passion. There is no move to another team; they are all in, win or lose. They spend hard-earned money and their free time to watch games, they are allowed to have expectations. This year’s Knicks haven’t met anyone’s expectations, including their own.

Those same fans will be jumping out of their seats and treat players like gods if they see a genuine effort, especially when that effort leads to comeback wins.

Randle knows all this but seemed to forget it in the heat of the moment. The apology is a good step, but he can do more on the court to mend this relationship than he can through words.