Things got controversial when NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced the fourth, overall pick for the New York Knicks. That pick was Latvian player Kristaps Porzingis, seven feet tall and slim like a ruler. When he walked onstage to shake Silver’s hand, the pressure was on.
Actually, the pressure was on before the Knicks ever even drafted the guy. For the past two weeks, he has endured comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol. And then the Knicks drafted him – a team that hasn’t won a championship since 1973 and suffered 17 losses this past season. We’re pretty sure not even Billy Joel was singing about pressure this intense.
When he stepped onto that stage, Knicks fans began to boo him. But Porzingis handled the negative reaction with this incredible form of grace and enthusiasm.
“I have to do everything that’s in my hands to turn those booing fans into clapping fans,” he stated. “I know the fans are a little harsh sometimes, but that’s how it is here in New York, and I’m ready for it.”
And that attitude is the kind that makes a booing crowd a gleeful crowd. Porzingis claimed that he’s thrilled to be playing in New York, and he’s especially excited to play alongside Carmelo Anthony.
“Whatever theme, whatever Carmelo wants me to do,” he said, “I will do that out on the court just to prove that I’m worthy enough to be out on the court with him.”
Porzingis also said that he knows “the basics of triangle defense,” and while he might not be ready to get out on the court yet, he’s working diligently. He has the perfect dose of confidence, it seems. He isn’t terrified, but he’s certainly not cocky. Fans understand that he can be a star and rescue the Knicks, but European stereotypes are still prevalent. For example, fans still hate players like Jan Vesley and Frederic Weis. But Porzingis says that even though he is white and European, he loves basketball as much as any of the American players. That will work in his advantage, we surmise.
We wish the best of luck to Porzingis, the New York Knicks, and all of their fans.