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June 25th; Brooklyn, New York; The NBA Draft
The first three picks of the draft would go as follows :
1: Minnesota Timberwolves, Karl Anthony Towns; Center
2: L.A. Lakers, D’Angelo Russell; Guard
3: Philadelphia 76ers, Jahlil Okafor; Center
The No. 4 pick would belong to the New York Knicks. With plenty of the Knicks faithful fans in attendance screaming at the top of their lungs, there is anticipation bursting through the hot summer air around the city. In “Phil (Jackson) we trust “, was the motto since the former coach and Knicks player took over as team president. The time was up and the pick was in. Here’s Adam Silver. …. “With the 4th pick in 2015 NBA Draft the NY Knicks select Kristaps Porzingis (KP).” Wait a minute what? The love, happiness and hope that filled the arena before the pick came down quickly turned into vitriol and outrage. A chorus of boos rang down from the stands. Fans took to social media, mocked and ridiculed the front office for dropping the ball. Waves of curse layden tirades and interviews pointing towards the incompetence of Jackson as an executive. All this before the young man even got on the court.
Of course he hits the court in the Las Vegas Summer League. After his first game, the quotes started changing. “He shows ball handling skill on the floor and a fluid jumpshot with range”, one coach observed. One executive said “He’s a 7 ft. shooting guard.”As the summer progressed, he showed more and more. The regular season started and then whoa, watch out. Dropping buckets, pulling rebounds, shooting those long jumpers, KP (as the fans call him) quickly became a “NY kinda” guy. The best way to gain recognition in today’s sports is hard work and dedication (lol) .. no realistically make it on a highlight reel. When Porzingis started showing off that rare (for a 7 footer) athleticism putting back dunks over unwitting participants down low and the way he loads up a three point shot and drains it with ease, the phenomenon started growing . The young big man has backed up the Dirk (Nowitzki) comparisons with consistent play during his rookie season and he’s surpassed Nowitzki’s popularity as a 1st year European player.
NBA Rising Stars Challenge pits international rookies and sophomores against their American counterparts during the NBA all star weekend. The face of the international squad of course didn’t disappoint. Porzingis scored 30 points, shooting 12-for-16 overall (5-for-8 from downtown). The world team would lose, but Porzingas definitely made his presence felt. NY is a world stage and every type of person from every walk of life passes through the mean streets of the “Big Apple”. When it comes to basketball, the fans there respect gritty and rugged players with elite skill sets. From the local parks and gyms to college and professional teams, New Yorkers expect to see the best ballers anywhere. The Knicks went for broke and drafted an unknown kid from Latvia with heavy upside. What happened to those boos on draft night? Well, go up to Madison Square Garden and watch a Knicks game. You’ll probably find yourself in the middle of a crowd chanting KP-KP-KP !!!