Kristaps Porzingis is an NBA champion in his first season with the Boston Celtics. At age 28 and with his fourth NBA team, the Latvian big man played a major role in Boston's 18th title.

Trading for Porzingis was a major risk for the Celtics. On top of trading away Marcus Smart, their defensive stalwart and heart of the team, they were betting on Porzingis staying healthy. He came into Boston with a lengthy injury history and just three instances in eight years in which he played 60 games in the regular season.

Porzingis turned out to be a great for for the Celtics, unlocking their five-out spacing with his incredible shooting from deep while also providing them with a lob threat and strong interior defender. Although he missed the entire conference semifinals and finals series, he made his way back for the biggest stage and played three games, helping Boston finish the job despite suffering a rare leg injury.

After winning the NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks, one of his former teams, Porzingis reflected on the mindset he brought to the Celtics and his burning desire to win a championship. He had a hard time accepting that he suffered another injury but he was fortunately able to recover in time to play in the decisive Game 5.

“From day one, when I came in, my mindset was, ‘I'm gonna give everything to this team and to this city to try to win a championship here,’ because I knew these guys had already been so close,” Porzingis said. “Once I got hurt, it was a heartbreaking moment for me. I didn’t even wanna accept the truth.”

Porzingis's injury that he sustained in Game 2 against Dallas was a mouthful, a “torn medial retinaculum allowing dislocation of the posterior tibialis tendon,” the Celtics said in an announcement. He had already dealt with a calf injury on his other leg that ate into most of his playoffs. Injury luck always seems to escape Porzingis. Fortunately for the veteran big man, he will always be able to call himself a champion now no matter what happens.

Kristaps Porzingis wins championship in first season with Celtics

Porzingis had been in the playoffs before with the Mavs but spent a lot of seasons on losing teams with the New York Knicks and Washington Wizards. This season was his best chance by far to secure the ultimate prize. He did everything he could to play, coming through for the C's. It took until the postgame celebration for the championship to register in his brian, as did some crazy celebrations from head coach Joe Mazzulla.

“It was a long road to get here, to be honest. To be the last team standing, it feels amazing. All that work paid off,” Porzingis said. “When I was still on the stage, it still felt surreal. Us, as a team, I feel like we couldn’t settle into that. Then, once we got back to the locker room and started celebrating, that’s when everybody realized that we actually did it. Joe is an animal.”

Kristaps Porzingis took to Twitter/X to express his love for Boston and the significance of this accomplishment. He became the first Latvian-born player to win the NBA championship. The Celtics have him under contract for the next two seasons and should once again be the favorites to win the championship going forward. Whatever injury may strike has yet to be seen but he has the chance to add more hardware to his NBA career.