Jacqueline Mukarugema stood by the bar at the Garden’s Delta Club on Saturday night, but she wasn’t purchasing drinks. The new jerseys of her son, Frank Ntilikina, had just arrived in time for the Knicks home opener, and she was preparing to buy a bunch off the rack to bring back to France.
Mukarugema had flown in from France just days before partly to watch Ntilikina’s Garden debut, but also to arrange his new White Plains apartment that he just moved into.
Ntilikina, the Knicks rookie point guard from Strasbourg, missed the home opener with a sprained left ankle and will sit Tuesday’s game in Boston. Minor injuries have been a big part of Ntilikina’s early narrative as their first lottery pick since Kristaps Porzingis.
But the smile on Mukarugema’s face as she put on her new “11’’ jersey — finally available for purchase — was priceless. As the story goes, Mukarugema escaped the atrocities of war-torn Rwanda and brought her two oldest sons to Belgium, where she had Frank. They moved to France when Ntilikina was 3.
Mukarugema speaks French and Swahili and just enough English to scrape by.
“Fans have so much expectations,’’ Mukarugema told The Post. “But he’s young and needs to learn and progress. Let’s see in time. They will be proud, but he needs time.”
The attention has been a bit much — with a gigantic Nike billboard overlooking the Garden. Ntilikina, 19, signed a Nike deal previously in France, which has been transferred to the U.S. The mother notices how…Read More