Kristaps Porzingis: Five years ago, I couldn’t run the court without wanting to sleep. Now, I’m on the Knicks
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Kristaps Porzingis: Five years ago, I couldn’t run the court without wanting to sleep. Now, I’m on the Knicks

During last year’s draft, a lot of people were surprised that the New York Knicks used the fourth-overall pick on a relatively unknown European forward who has not played a single game in the U.S. yet. Some even made their frustrations heard as they booed inside the Barclays Center.

As the season started, Knicks fans saw putback slams and other highlight reel plays from their rookie, Kristaps Porzingis. The boos turned into applause and the doubters started to believe in him. And as the saying goes, the rest is history.

After his stellar first season, where he averaged 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 28.4 minutes per game, the 7-foot-3 Latvian still could not believe where his fate has brought him.

In a lengthy blog entry he made on The Players’ Tribune titled “Pastarītis,“Porzingis discussed where he got the title of his post from, his struggles in Spain during the start of his professional career and how he feels now that he’s playing at the highest level. Here are some excerpts:

“When I was growing up in Latvia, my older brothers, Janis and Martins, had a nickname for me. It wasn’t Porzee. It wasn’t KP. It was pastarītis.”

“Pastarītis is an old Latvian slang term meaning “youngest child in the family,” but the way my brothers used it, it meant aloof. They would say it all the time.”

“I grew up by myself, for the most part. I came to Spain to play for CB Sevilla when I was 15. Considering I’m so close to my family, being away from them and living in a country where I didn’t speak the language was hard”

“Being so young in Spain was hard. I was homesick and I didn’t speak Spanish well. But on this morning I was feeling particularly unwell. I was always the first person at the gym, but that morning I was feeling off. To be honest, I’d been feeling off for some time.”

“Now looking back at it, it’s interesting to think about all the stuff I went through and that I did. I’m still here, I’m alive. I’ve put in the work. And now I’m good. Five years ago, I could not run down the court at practice without wanting to go to sleep. Now, I’m on the New York Knicks.”

The 21-year-old forward also revealed what his goals are for his team and for himself, which he plans to achieve this coming season:

“In terms of personal goals, I can’t predict what I’m going to do. There are goals for myself and goals for my team. I believe that we have to make the playoffs, and that’s my focus. Just gonna put this out there, though: One day I’d like to get a quadruple double, points, assists, rebounds and blocks. Melo got close to a few triple doubles last year — as the wing player in our offense, he’s in a good position to do set everyone up — so I know it’s possible in our system. Ten blocks, though … I don’t know.”

As he has shown last year, he certainly has the talent and skill to achieve what he’s aiming for. And now that the team has been retooled with the addition of key pieces to their roster, the Knicks are geared to win more games. It should give Porzingis more reason to believe he can surpass his performance from last season and hopefully make his first playoff appearance in the 2016-2017 campaign.

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