The boos are inevitable for Kristaps Porzingis, but New York Knicks fans are crazy to feel any ill-will towards a player they once idolized.
Sports fans are irrational. Even with that in mind, New York Knicks fans are a different breed. Peruse Knicks Twitter or—gasp—Knicks Facebook for two minutes and it’s obvious that there are plenty of Knicks fans at odds with one another.
But there’s one thing almost every Knicks fan can agree on: Kristaps Porzingis is a snake.
In his first game at Madison Square Garden with the Dallas Mavericks, the boos are sure to rain down like arrows from the upper reaches of the nosebleed section. In fact, Porzingis already sounds like he’s expecting a rude reception based on some of the social media vitriol coming from Knicks fans.
“I don’t know. I don’t know what to expect. Social media, it’s mostly negative. But we’ll see. There’s gonna be a lot of emotions, that’s for sure,” Porzingis said Wednesday via Marc Berman of the New York Post. “It’s hard not to see [the fans’ reaction], but it is what it is.
“Everybody can say their opinion on social media, and you don’t have to read it all if you don’t want to. You don’t have to pay attention to it. Sometimes I see it, sometimes I don’t look at it. It is what it is. I understand. I understand where they’re coming from.”
There will be boos because fans root for laundry, not players. That being said, Porzingis is not the reason the Knicks are a mess right now.
Porzingis is no different from every other Knicks' draft pick this millennium.
The best teams draft solid prospects, develop those picks into impact players, and ultimately keep those players as vital pieces of the core. The Knicks do not.
Since the turn of the century, the Knicks have been historically bad at drafting, developing, and keeping top-tier talent from the lottery.
Mike Sweetney, Channing Frye, Danilo Gallinari, Jordan Hill, and Porzingis were all shipped out of town for one reason or another before they could re-sign with the Knicks. David Lee, although not a lottery pick, should have his jersey hanging in the rafters for somehow managing to survive in New York for five years.
Lottery picks usually don’t last very long with the Knicks and Porzingis was no different.
But, but, but, he asked for a trade!
Yes, I know what you’re thinking: BUT HE ASKED FOR THE TRADE!
That is correct. Porzingis asked to be traded. However, acting as if the trade request came out of nowhere is disingenuous. There were plenty of instances of friction between the organization and Porzingis dating back to the infamous exit meeting skipped by the Latvian that irked then-team president Phil Jackson.
Everything that happened between the missed meeting and the eventual trade needs more than one article to unpack. In fact, we still don’t know all the behind-the-scenes details of what really went wrong to sour the relationship.
The Knicks had an opportunity to give Porzingis an extension prior to the 2018-19 season, but didn’t. By holding off, they created cap space that was being allocated for a max-level free agent. At the time, the plan was to lure a marquee player to pair with Porzingis and the franchise was vocal about KP being onboard with the plan.
Of course, that plan never came to fruition and the Knicks used Porzingis as a trade chip to dump salary. Hindsight is 20/20 and offering Porzingis a max-level rookie extension after a major injury would have been a considerable risk. But had the Knicks went all-in on Porzingis they would have an All-Star caliber player on the roster right now.
Instead, the Knicks gambled on attracting not just one, but two max-level free agents over the summer and they whiffed completely. After plenty of offseason talk about this new competitive and gritty Knicks roster, the season has been nothing short of a massive disappointment.
A 2-9 start is not how anyone in the building envisioned this team starting. The front office’s impromptu press conference after Sunday’s loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers was an indication that the Knicks are already smashing the panic button.
The 2-9 start is bad, but that doesn’t even tell the full story of the Porzingis-less Knicks. New York is 25-95 since KP went down on that dunk attempt on Feb. 6, 2017.
So if you’re reading this on your way to the Garden on Thursday night, boo Porzingis until you lose your voice, but know that he’s not the reason why the Knicks are in shambles.
Perhaps if the Knicks did more to cater to the star they had in the building, they’d be in a better spot right now. A Porzingis in the hand is worth two free agents in the bush.