New York Knicks: Phil Jackson's Doubts Motivated Kristaps Porzingis
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 03: Kristaps Porzingis #6 of the New York Knicks reacts after a dunk in the fourth quarter against the Phoenix Suns at Madison Square Garden on November 3, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

New York Knicks‘ Kristaps Porzingis hasn’t forgotten criticisms from former president Phil Jackson. In fact, he used it as motivation.

Kristaps Porzingis poured in a career-high 40 points on Sunday night in the New York Knicks incredible comeback win against the Indiana Pacers. The unicorn led the charge in the fourth quarter to further solidify his reputation as a franchise player.

The 22-year-old’s ascension to stardom has been faster than many expected. Even the man who drafted him — former president Phil Jackson — didn’t believe Porzingis was ready to be the franchise player. Apparently, that motivated the youngster.

Via Ian Begley of ESPN New York:

“Of course. The challenge is never too big for me,” said Porzingis, 22. “I always accept the challenge and that’s why I knew coming into this season [if] Melo was not going to be here, then I’m going to have to be that guy and that’s why I was just [spending] 24 hours in the gym. I was preparing for this, preparing myself physically, and I’m just happy that I’m capable of playing at this level right now.”

The Zen Master infamously pondered trading Porzingis shortly before he was fired following the controversy surrounding a skipped exit meeting. After nine games of MVP basketball, that nonsense is forgotten.

Porzingis was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week after averaging 33.5 points and 3.3 blocks per game. He’s scored 30-plus points in seven of New York’s nine games.

The Knicks have won five of their last six games after starting the season 0-3, and Porzingis has been an integral part of that success.

I'm ESNY's Executive Editor for I cover the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. Email: Chip Murphy covers the NBA for Elite Sports NY. You can find him on Twitter @ChipperMurphy.