I have to do everything that’s in my hands to turn those booing fans into clapping fans.
These were the words confidently announced by Kristaps Porzingis after one of the greatest moments of his life coincided with booing fans at the Barclays Center.
In their highest draft pick since they selected Patrick Ewing in 1985, the New York Knicks chose the seven-foot-three-inch Latvian 4th overall after names like Jahlil Okafor and D’Angelo Russell were off the board. We all know what happened next:
Fans’ worries when it comes to the Knicks draft is justified because they know how it feels to get their hopes up for a high draft pick only to be let down in the following years. However, Kristaps Porzingis is different.
Porzingis has a genuine love for the game, he has the drive to be great and he has the talent to reach unprecedented levels in the future.
He had cornrows as a kid in an attempt to emulate now-teammate Carmelo Anthony. One of the things he was most excited about when he was drafted by the Knicks was to have keys to a gym he can put in work at 24/7 due to the lack of accessible facilities in Latvia. He wants to learn from guys like Melo and Dirk Nowitzki. But what’s the best thing about the rookie? His desire to do all of this in New York.
On Saturday, Porzingis hosted his first youth clinic with NYC Basketball League at Xavier High School in Manhattan. Fans aged 5-17 from all over the tri-state area came out to meet, learn from and interact with their idol.
The first order of business for KP was a Q&A with the campers. We found out that he wants revenge on Dwight Howard & Hassan Whiteside for their vicious dunks on him this year, that he was disappointed he couldn’t finish out the regular season due to the shoulder injury and that, if it wasn’t clear already, he enjoys playing basketball with Carmelo Anthony. When asked if it was fun playing with No. 7, he smiled and said, “It is fun.”
While getting mobbed with autograph and picture requests from both the kids and their parents, Kristaps made his way around the camp, jumping in on some of the drills and talking basketball with his fans.
He talked dunking with some of the older kids, defended players with his Inspector Gadget-like arms and even played a prank on one camper by tapping him on the shoulder and running away. One of the dozens of kids wearing a Porzingis jersey told KP he hopes he plays on the Knicks forever and he replied with, “Me too. It’s a dream come true playing here in New York.”
The amount of love Porzingis was getting from his fans is truly unbelievable when you look back at how he was perceived that summer night in Brooklyn. People couldn’t pronounce his name, now they’re chanting his name in unison: