I’m sorry. It may be for some one of the hardest things to say or admit especially in the sports world. But this sorry isn’t so hard; it’s actually one of the easiest sorrys I’ve ever had to say. This column is going to be an apology to a player who didn’t deserve the immediate backlash that he endured on a day that was supposed to be maybe one of the best in his life. My sincerest apology is for the New York Knicks’ rookie, Latvian prodigy Kristaps Porzingis. Last June in Barclays Center, you experienced probably one of the most ironic and hostile New York sporting moments in recent memory when the Knicks selected you. The cloud of doubt and negativity surrounding your European basketball roots were picked apart daily by media outlets. You didn’t deserve that, and I’m here to attempt to set it right.
Before I state more reasons for why I was wrong to boo your selection as the fourth overall pick in the 2015 Draft, I want to somewhat explain myself. I understand that there are no excuses for my past infractions, but as a Knicks fan last summer I was not in a good place. I’ve had my loyalty tested quite dramatically over the years. For a team that prides itself on playing in the “Basketball Mecca” — Madison Square Garden — the Knicks had quite frankly become the recurring joke of the NBA. With such an incredible fan base, in a city where top tier basketball talent is cultivated, the Knicks’ losing seasons reduced them to a steppingstone. MSG was stripped of a team and left as only a stage for superstars to have 40-point or more games, leaving the Knicks to be the backdrop of headlines on their home floor.
It was a pretty sad thing to witness. Last summer’s draft represented a moment to finally make all those losing seasons worth it. With the recent Knicks nightmares and false promises in drafting and picking up other European stars like Bargnani and Gallinari, the idea of drafting another international hopeful was ridiculous. Those players and others drafted by the Knicks never met their projected potentials at New York, but on other teams they found success and were incredibly effective. In last year’s NBA Conference Finals there were six former Knicks playing, all of whom were sacrificed over the years to make room for potential blockbuster trades or to ensure a top draft pick. There was a lot on the line.
When Adam Silver announced your name, I fell to the ground, booed and yelled. Quite frankly, I had a preschool break down. How could the Knicks do this again? Commentators said you were Latvian, 7 ft. 3 in., had good 3-point range and guard-like capabilities. None of that mattered. I became a part of the media circus condemning you and the Knicks. But you’ve proved us all wrong. Your highlight put-back dunks, shooting ability and Dirk Nowitzki-like post moves have pushed you into Rookie of the Year discussion and All-Star Rising Star player qualification. So I just want to say sorry again and want to thank you for not listening to all that noise.