Two years ago, Kristaps Porzingis swept in and stole our hearts. Now, he’s either been poisoned or decided to play to Phil Jackson‘s level.
During the month of November 2015, he rapidly stole our hearts.
Save for a few NBA Summer League moments that flashed glimpses of stardom, the majority of New York Knicks fandom was extremely suspicious of the Latvian kid named Kristaps Porzingis entering the regular season. He was tall, but skinny. He was 20-years of age, yet looked 15. He was athletic, yet appeared slow-footed.
Not only did he scoop in and grab out attention overnight with his astonishing offensive rebounding put backs and unrelenting effort, he was a coach’s dream off the court and in the locker room.
He was literally a dream come true. How could any 20-year-old be this mature and just “get it” to this extent? And to boot, how could any one individual display such handles and range standing at 7-foot-3?
We just couldn’t grasp all of this new information coming our way. Everything the kid did, whether it was speaking to the media or handling attention from the city starved fanbase, passed the “franchise player” test.
Then two years happened. Two miserable, awful years of 63-101 basketball … happened.
Porzingis, apparently frustrated with the situation (as we’ve sort of since learned), skipped his exit interview with Phil Jackson and the organization who’s made him a millionaire.
Seemingly overnight, the coach’s dream had turned into a nightmare.
Obviously, a more serious offense can be found 10 times a minute than skipping an interview. We understand this. But the franchise guy, the hopes and dreams of an organization, suddenly flashed the proverbial middle finger at his employer, the very same for which he’s under contract with through the year 2020.
Amazingly, up until this point, the name of Phil Jackson hasn’t been mentioned (while you’ve been cursing the very same name since the word go). Phil, the Knicks executive boss, is culprit No. 1 in the city.
Jax has been a nightmare. Twice now, he’s started fresh with a crop of new free agents and/or acquisitions and failed each season. From Robin Lopez to Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee to Jose Calderon, it’s been a disaster.
Many point to Jackson calling out Carmelo Anthony as his biggest misstep. I don’t buy that for a second. Since when did it become wrong to call out a player? Jackson used to do perform this method a countless number of times with guys named Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. And guess what? They usually answered that call, that challenge. What Phil did with Melo was all about challenging and gauging his franchise player’s mental capacity for success.
Where Jackson has really failed comes when thinking about freedom.
Jeff Hornacek has been afforded no chance to succeed. When a system (the dreaded triangle) is forced down the throat of a coach or a personnel grouping, little chance of success exists. If an executive is breaking up practices when he feels it’s necessary, the absurdity has reached new heights. When an executive looks to turn back the clock and pretend size matters most (as opposed to the new aged perimeter and three-point play), forget about it.
This still doesn’t wash away the sins of KP. No matter how horrid Jackson’s actions are, his running away from the situation instead of stating his feelings with conviction have the keen onlooker extremely concerned. Porzingis needed to be upfront about his unhappiness instead of allowing his brother to meet with his employer in his stead while he firmly tucked his tail between his legs and ran away.
Rather than proving he can be a franchise leader, he compounded the problem by acting childish himself.
It’s almost like he’s been poisoned.
Enter Carmelo Anthony.
There aren’t any true accusations here, but it’s interesting how childish all three parties (Jax, KP, Melo) have become over time. Unfortunately, in this day and age, teams are formed and fans and onlookers chose sides. They blame one person and allow the other to walk away without accountability.
With the Knickerbockers, that’s a mistake. Accountability from all angles is necessary.
Just take a gander at the social media history between Jax and Melo. It’s foolish. It’s silly. It’s hilarious that two grown adults go at each other through Twitter or Instagram like this. Does any of what Jackson’s done make it right for Melo to counter Jax’s thoughts about him by posting a smart-ass Instagram post?
Is this the correct response from a team leader?
Melo posted this shortly after a Jackson press conference. Jackson, already not hiding his feelings that he wanted Melo gone, had this to say:
“We’ve not been able to win with [Anthony] on the court at this time,” Jackson said. “I think the direction with our team is that he’s a player that would be better off somewhere else and using his talent somewhere where he can win or chase that championship.”
Unless you’re driving your own agenda and protecting Melo to the death, Jax’s statement here is pretty spot on. They haven’t been able to win with him, even prior to Jackson.
Melo, instead of acting the like the leader New York needed, obviously, threw up that Leonardo DiCaprio zinger in response, showcasing that it’s more about “him,” not about the “team.”
Young KP then decided to “like” the zinger on Instagram, the place that takes grown adults and turns them into children.
Could you imagine that fresh-faced 20-year-old coach’s dream “liking” an immature Instagram post during October 2015? I really don’t think so.
You can choose to blame only Phil if you’d like. In this day and age of social media weirdness, it’s become the norm, for many terrible reasons.
I simply can’t do that. I’m not blind.
Jackson, Melo and the entire Knicks organization is to blame for this nightmare of a situation. Porzingis, himself, is also to blame. To allow such disgusting behavior to affect the way he conducts himself over the course of his young (and what should be brilliant) career is just plain wrong. If KP had an issue with how the organization was being handled, he needed to state that issue. Show up for the exit meeting like a professional and state your thoughts and feelings with absolute conviction.
Sure, Jackson has a massive ego and could care less what anybody thinks of him, even if he does do the unthinkable (trade KP). But Carmelo Anthony is equally to blame here.
KP and the Knicks needed leaders since the drafting of Porzingis. Instead, they received two children who helped turn this coach’s dream into an absolute nightmare of a situation. Remember, it wasn’t too long ago that Melo was upset and “hoodwinked” at the selection of young Kristaps Porzingis, reported by Stephen A. Smith, and now both are on the same immature level in handling their basketball affairs.
Thanks to the actions of all three individuals, the Knicks deserve all of the bad that comes their way from here on out.