It was Homecoming Saturday inside the Garden last weekend as former New York Knicks RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley flew back to the place they once called home since both of them got traded to the Toronto Raptors on Dec. 30.
While IQ lost no time in penning a love letter to the franchise and their fans just a few days after getting moved north of the border, RJ decided to let things marinate for three weeks before releasing his own missive.
He announced he would be publishing a note after his last game at MSG this season, which took place on Jan. 20 as New York played host to the Raptors, and he fulfilled the promise by dropping a heartwarming video in which he reminisced about his time in NYC and all things Knicks.
Here is the full transcript of the 90-second clip, as well as a handful of bonus quotes we heard about during the past few hours as the Knicks went on to beat the Raps last Saturday and before they face the Nets on Tuesday.
“New York, I want to say thank you. For just embracing a 19-year-old kid from Canada. Making my dreams come true, getting drafted, being able to play at Madison Square Garden in front of all the amazing fans every night. It was truly surreal, whether it was that first playoff game, hearing all the fans screaming, to the game-winner versus the Celtics. I have so many amazing memories whether it’s with my teammates, coaching staff, just the whole organization. Everyone as a whole, I have so many amazing memories. I could thank so many people.“
“I enjoyed being in New York, I enjoyed being in it, just everything that embodied Knicks fans, I want to say thank you for embracing me and thank you for supporting me on and off the court in every way, whether it’s hearing my name announced in the starting lineups and hearing you guys scream, to just the love that I would receive around the city. You guys really mean a lot and I’ll always appreciate that from you guys.”
“To all my teammates, you know, we’ve been through a lot of wars together, a lot of dogfights. Appreciate everything on and off the court. All the lessons have been much appreciated.”
”I’ll never forget my time in New York. But at the end of the day, life continues and I’m back home with the Raptors, and I’m excited and I’m hungry. I’m hungry for more, and I’m just excited to see what this team will be able to do.”
On Precious Achiuwa’s steady improvement and having a season-best game on Saturday...
“You just want to build every day.”
”I think he played hard. Extended minutes helped him, and I think (being) familiar with the opponent (helped him too).”
“Each day just get in there and play as hard as you can. When you do that, good things come from that.”
On the value of having Josh Hart back after he missed Thursday’s game with an injury...
“I don’t want to overlook what OG [Anunoby] and Josh brought to the game. They made so many tough plays for us and that got us going.”
On Julius Randle getting his first triple-double and his defensive contributions...
“A triple-double, he just played really hard and tough. And [the Raptors] were small, so we did a lot of switching [on defense]. Good job switching, and that’s great value.”
On OG Anunoby’s skill set and relentless approach to the game...
“I think it’s a big part of his uniqueness and his versatility, his strength. It’s a rare combination of power, strength, speed, agility, anticipation and (he’s got) a big-time motor. He can make two or three efforts on a play and he can keep going. He never quits on a play. And those types of effort plays inspire the team.”
On facing his former team as a member of the New York Knicks...
“It’s still weird. I was in Toronto for seven years. I loved it there. I never imagined playing for another team.”
On his upcoming return to Toronto to play against the Raptors on March 27...
“It’ll be a crazy thing. I’m looking forward to it though.”
On the impact he’s had on the Knicks and the positive run of results since the trade...
“It’s been great. Hopefully, it will continue and we’ll continue to win games. Guys play the right way. We want to win. We’re all the same really.”
On his legendary plus/minus columns and contributing in all facets of the game...
“Yeah, I’m impressed. I always want to impact winning. So I want to keep having a good plus-minus.”
“Even plays that don’t go on the stat sheet—steals and stuff... a block, or a contest, a closeout that forces a bad shot. Little stuff that doesn’t get noticed. I try to do all those little things.”
On the improvement experienced by the team and its individual players since the arrival of OG...
“It’s just—we’re flowing out there. I think the chemistry is just unexplainable. We’re able to flow and feed off of each other. Just trying to make plays while still being aggressive.”
“We’ve been in a groove, so we’ve just got to keep doing what we’ve been doing, keep giving each other confidence, and keep moving forward.”
On his approach to dealing with the Raptors and their double-team-heavy defense...
“Every time I got it, they were bringing two [defenders]. That was kind of my mindset coming in, be aggressive but kind of read and take what the defense is giving me. That’s kind of how I’ve been seeing it the past few games. I’ve been able to score the ball at a high clip. But if they double-team me, I gotta be able to make the right plays.”