Former Knicks star denies need for spotlight during New York tenure

Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis (8) shoots against New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (23) in the first quarter at TD Garden
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics star Kristaps Porzingis is enjoying a strong start to the 2023-24 NBA season and has played his tertiary role well next to fellow high-octane scorers in Jayson Tatum and Jalen Brown. When recently examining his time with the New York Knicks in hindsight, Porzingis denies reports of having needed to be the face of the franchise at that time.

Knicks: Porzingis’ Rise to Stardom Came With Drama in New York

According to Stefan Bondy of the New York Post, Porzingis addressed the rumors surrounding his alleged thirst for the limelight and how he’s grown as a player as a man since his days in New York, saying:

“And it was never an issue for me. I think it was never an issue for me, it was always this narrative that was out there that — I think some of you guys that know me closer know how I am. And of course when you’re younger you’re a bit more cocky and arrogant. It’s just natural. You mature and get older and you understand things better. I never had a big issue at all.”

Porzingis faced a world of backlash after then-Knicks President Phil Jackson selected him with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. A freakishly tall, yet unknown talent out of Latvia, Porzingis came into New York City and stole the show with standout defense, floor spacing, and a host of highlight plays that had Madison Square Garden rocking.

For defying the hecklers and establishing himself as a star within two seasons, there were reports that he and Carmelo Anthony were jockeying for positioning as the team’s head honcho. Porzingis developed tensions with the front office as his Knicks tenure drew to a close in 2018 and sought greener pastures via trade.

During that time, Porzingis’ brother Janis was very outspoken in questioning the Knicks’ plans for building a winner around Kristaps and how they intended to appease what he viewed as the clear focal point of the franchise. All of these elements led to a bitter divorce between the two parties.

Porzingis’ Move to the Dallas Mavericks a Humbling Yet Growing Experience

Porzingis joining forces with Luka Doncic on the Dallas Mavericks spoke to his openness in sharing the lion’s share of scoring opportunities on the team. Prior to their first game together, there was a serious debate over which of the two would edge out the other offensively.

Porzingis endured a rough stretch of his career which saw his level of aggression get called into question. After a brief spell in Washington, Porzingis is back to playing winning basketball and has amalgamated his firepower as a member of the Knicks into a Celtics team that has serious championship aspirations.

He’s shooting above 50 percent from the field (56.5 percent) and north of 40 percent shooting from the three (40.8 percent) for the first time in his career while averaging his usual near-20 points per game on only 11.5 shot attempts nightly.

Now, rumors of Porzingis’ alleged need for all eyes to be on him are clearly behind him. The Knicks were able to get a 2017-18 All-Star season out of him and now have two more cracks at beating his Celtics and evening their season series.

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