A recent report surrounding New York Knicks young Kristaps Porzingis can only be chalked up as the Latvian’s total and complete fault.
Once upon a time, there were two organizations who called Madison Square Garden home. One played hockey while the other … well, the other … they played hoops.
At times, there were glorious moments. One era featured a heroic Game 7 big man captain sink two jumpers on one leg while another decade showcased the exact toughness the five boroughs are all about while continuously falling short against the G.O.A.T.
Today, only one organization has soiled its oats on a regular basis in the postseason. It’s not the one that plays hoops.
Instead of being the New York Rangers, a squad who is skipping and smiling through life James Dolan-less, the New York Knicks are mired in a Carmelo Anthony era filled with drama and disappointment. Not even Phil Jackson can be fully blamed for the latest to hit our news desks.
According to basketball lifer Peter Vecsey of NBA TV, Kristaps Porzingis missed his end-of-year exit interview not due to any rift with Phil Jackson, but due to a fallout with head coach Jeff Hornacek. When he skipped the exit interview, he told reporters that he did so via his “frustration” and “drama” infused in the organization, via Ian Begley of ESPN New York.
On Wednesday, Vecsey claims Hornacek may have been a big part of it. Hornacek feared his label as a “soft” coach and, as it’s reported, singled-out KP at times.
“[Porzingis] resented being singled out for criticism,” Vecsey wrote, “and acted out accordingly. He developed an annoying habit, for example, of parking in spots at the team’s practice facility designated for management.”
Vecsey reported that he even attempted to get KP’s best friend, Willy Hernangomez, to help matters by convincing KP to roll with the punches.
“Mindlessly, Hornacek got Hernangomez alone one dreadful day and conveyed to him what he should’ve conveyed to Porzingis face-to-face: ‘Tell your guy to stop playing like a pussy!’”
After that, Vecsey reports that the two (Hornacek, KP) stopped talking to one another. Only through texts or Hernangomez did they speak.
Later on in the day, Marc Berman of the New York Post refutes Vecsey’s report.
Scary! Post author apparently reads my report. States KP wondered why JH never got on Melo. Did not write that. https://t.co/lfhEahLVh1
— Peter Vecsey (@PeterVecsey1) August 30, 2017
Here’s the bottom line: if Kristaps Porzingis just showcased a little leadership and showed up to the damn exit interview, none of this drama would be spoken about today.
Instead of dealing with the “he said, she said” garbage (moving from Vecsey’s lips to Berman’s mouth), the Knickerbockers can be dealing with trading Carmelo Anthony and looking forward to employing a young, energetic, exciting squad this coming season.
This is what the exit interview is for — to effectively communicate one’s issues with the organization behind the scenes and away from the harmful media. That’s what’s so disappointing about these contrasting stories today. Nobody cares what’s true or false. We only care that it’s actually happening and being reported.
It could have all been avoided if KP just sat down with the execs and laid his cards on the table. If KP had attended, there would be no rumor or innuendo surrounding the situation.
Instead, he ran away in hopes that drama and confusion would suddenly and magically go away upon his return.
No. It doesn’t work that way. Drama and confusion only go away through an effectively intelligent and fearless culture. KP needed to understand his teammates, his organization needed a leader at the worst time upon the conclusion of the 2016-17 NBA season and acted as the voice of his squad — right there face-to-face with Phil Jackson and the other suits at the table.
Instead of the unreal kid who said and did all the right things as a rookie, we’re not looking at an individual resembling the drama and off-the-court issues Melo and the Knicks have suffered through for the last six-and-change seasons.
It’s a major problem. If James Dolan, Steve Mills and the rest of the organization keep allowing young KP to do whatever he wants without consequences, it’s going to only become worse. The rumors and Vecsey reports will only come in faster and harder.
It doesn’t matter who’s right on this day. Whether it’s Vecsey or Berman, KP and the Knicks lose. Drama like this is manufactured by their own senseless, childlike actions.
Instead of following the lead of a professional 20-year-old Latvian who already “got it,” the Knicks have brought him down to their level. Most disappointingly, he allowed it to happen.