An Open Letter To Kristaps Porzingis

Dear Kristaps,

As the new sensation in the Big Apple, I know you would rather rub shoulders with the likes of Spike Lee, Woody Allen, and Katie Holmes. I doubt you find time to read this letter. If you do read it, you can appreciate it or you can shrug it off like you have shrugged off the doubters thus far in your NBA career. Speaking of doubters, I was one of them.

On the night of the NBA Draft, you were booed outrageously by New York Knicks fans. The booing was so loud I'm sure that they could be heard in every borough in New York City. As I watched you get booed, I thought you were just another draft pick a la Frederick Weis who wouldn't even make it Pennsylvania Plaza to even step foot in the basketball mecca Madison Square Garden. As the booing became louder, it appeared that you were embracing the moment. It was sort of a wrestler turning heel right before our eyes, but yet again, I wasn’t a believer.

Prior to the Knicks drafting you, all I heard was your name being compared to some of the greatest European basketball players who ever graced the NBA. Many experts felt you were the next Dirk Nowitzki or Pau Gasol. In my head I'm thinking, "hell no he's probably more Nikoloz Tskitishvilli or Andrea Bargnani more than anything." At the time, I only saw your pre-draft workout, and it was impressive to say the least. After the pre-draft workout, I went to Youtube to search for more. I found a few videos, and after what I saw I still wasn’t a believer. I noticed that you were a true seven footer, but you were athletic, fluid, and you had a feel to the game that can’t be taught.

Yet again, I still wasn’t a believer.

I'm thinking the NBA needs to give it up trying to find the next Dirk. The hater in me believed there was no hope for that to happen. There are countless stories of European players who fizzled out of the NBA. To be honest, I thought you were next on that list of players who could not withstand the rigors in the NBA.

Boy, was I wrong.

I am an avid watcher of the NBA Summer League and in the Las Vegas Summer League, you showed flashes why you were drafted so high. The numbers were modest – averaging a shade over 10 points and three rebounds per game, but you can see something was there. As the games progressed, I wavered my opinion about you as a player. Yet, again the hater came out, and I’m thinking, well he was good, but who is he playing against?

The hype surrounding you was valid, and my feelings about your game are still in flux not, realizing how good you are. And yeah, I am also not considering you aren’t even old enough to order a Ciroc and Cranberry. As the opening day of the NBA season became closer, I figured that you would be the biggest disappointment amongst a pretty good rookie class. I took in consideration that you would be playing in New York, which is one of the biggest – if not the biggest media microscope in the United States.

You're essentially a 20-year-old who is new to the United States has to please and meet the expectations of fans that have been yearning for basketball glory for a very long time. I didn’t even take into consideration that you would be playing on a bad team. I just figured that the expectations were too high for you.

I know it’s only 12 games into your rookie year, but damn you can play basketball. Your stats (12.8 ppg and 8.6rpg) may not scream rookie of the year, but your impact does.

The Knicks are 6-6, which isn’t great, but the Knicks didn’t get their sixth win until January 19th, 2015 during last season’s abysmal season. Yes, Carmelo Anthony is healthier, but KP, you have a lot to do with the positive change that’s going on with the Knicks.

At this point of your career, you are ahead of what Dirk Nowtizki was as a rookie. Not saying you will become Dirk, but for the first time I can say that I am a believer in you. The NBA has only been in play for six weeks, and in those six weeks you’ve captivated a lot of fans across the world. The NBA is better when New York has a winning team or has some positive buzz around the team, and thanks to you that’s happening.

From dream-shaking to tip dunking, to hitting three pointers, you have been a treat for basketball fans this season. The booing has turned into cheers, and it’s only the beginning for you.

I am a man of principle, so I would like to apologize for having the wrong perception of your transcendent basketball skills. Melo has a sidekick in you, and now the Knick faithful have something to cheer about. It’s funny how the tables turn. Just a few months ago people wanted to boo you out of town, and now you see people donning No. 6 jersey’s around New York.

On behalf of the New York basketball fans, I will apologize for them as well. Their hearts have been broken too many times on draft day, and they thought you were just the next fling to break their hearts. Don’t hold it against them, it’s not their fault. As you can see they have embraced you since you’ve been playing good basketball.

Well, I’ve taken enough of your time KP. I hope you have a healthy and successful year.


Ron Hampston, a new fan of Kristaps Porzingis.

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