"With the fourth pick in the 2015 NBA draft, the New York Knicks select Kristaps Porzingis" cut to a booing crowd, grown men in Knicks jerseys holding their heads in their hands, a kid weeping into his cell phone camera. Possibly the worst live reaction to any draft selection, ever. The draft took place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn where the arena was absolutely filled with upset Knicks fans. As the newly selected prospect awkwardly makes his way to the stage the comentator says"Perhaps Kris Porzingis can turn these fans around at some point." What a welcome to the NBA.
Selecting European players has always come with a little hesitation from both fans and front offices. Players coming from the NCAA seem more likely to be a sure thing, they're playing in our neighbourhood, against other future NBA players, they play the American game. Players like the Gasol brothers and Nowitzki have helped to ease that doubt as they rose to the top of the league as bonafide hall of famers but the weariness still lingers.
The 7'3 power forward had some expectations to meet and some people to prove wrong. If you told half of those fans that night that they would eventually call him Porzingod or The Unicorn they would have scoffed or at least taken it as sarcasm. Now try telling them that he would have a part in changing the entire franchise, they're laughing in your face.
Cut to the end of the 2016-17 season, after two impressive years of growth. It's time for exit interviews as once more the terrible Knicks miss the playoffs by a long shot. News breaks that the Latvian kid skipped his year end interview with the legendary (for bad reasons in NY) Phil Jackson. This news is followed by reports that Phil wants him gone. Reasons for his absence are mixed, his brother suggested that this move was meant to make a statement pushing for changes to the front office. A bold move for the young star, no doubt, but it seemed to work. Phil Jackson was subsequently bought out and the Knicks proceeded to rid themselves of Carmelo Anthony who was shipped to OKC for spare parts. Wow, those Knicks fans may regret laughing in your face, the franchise does indeed look a little different.
The year is 2017 and the Knicks might be worth watching. Kristaps is flat out unguardable. A true unicorn, this guy spaces the floor with deep threes, posts up much smaller defenders (the dude is huge) and dunks on people so hard that their grandkids are going to feel it. After 8 games he's averaging 29 points and 7.8 rebounds per game and looking like a real threat to win the scoring title. What if the Knicks make the playoffs? (Did I say that?) Unlikely but if this kid can perform a miracle in the big apple he has to be declared not only MVP but President of the United States and our lord and saviour.