NBA Rooks: Diaries

Rookie Diary, Volume 8: Myles Turner


VIDEO: Turner with five blocks against the Raptors

Kristaps Porzingis of the Knicks and Myles Turner of the Pacers will alternate on a weekly diary for NBA.com covering life as a rookie, from challenges and success on the court to adjusting to their new world off. This week: Turner discusses his 2015-16 as the regular season ends and the playoffs begin for Indiana, and his plans for the summer.

The regular season was very up and down, but for the most part I feel like it was very successful. I was able to come out here and do what I needed to accomplish and do my best to help the team get to the playoffs. That’s where we’re at, so I feel like it was a good season overall.

The big games I had are probably the best memories. I had a really big game against the Golden State Warriors. I had 31 points that game. Golden State just proved the other night were the best team in the regular season. Scoring that much on a team like that is pretty incredible. Blocking LeBron, that was pretty cool. I’ll probably remember that for a long time as well. And to be able to start as many games as I did, 30 of the 60 games I played this year, was great. Those are the three that stick out the most.

Earning a spot in the starting lineup was a big boost for my confidence. It meant that my teammates and the coaching staff had a lot of confidence in me as well, that they knew why they drafted me. To get a place in the starting lineup, especially early, that meant even more confidence for me. I was happy I was able to perform.

I proved to myself that I can play at this level. I never had any doubts about coming here and playing at this level, of course, but I didn’t know what to expect. But now I know I can really play at this level.

I wanted to try to make it to Toronto for All-Star weekend. I guess it’s ironic that I got to Toronto for the playoffs, so I guess I somewhat reached that goal. I wanted to be in the Rookie of the Year running. I wanted to try to make one the All-Rookie teams. Hopefully I’ll achieve that goal. My short-term goal was to establish a role on this team and get in the starting lineup. I told myself that I wanted to at least get out there and prove that I can play at this level. I feel like I accomplished those goals.

Making All-Rookie would be a payoff for all the work I’ve put in this year. That was a huge goal of mine coming out of summer league, so to achieve that goal, to have that respect from my peers and respect from the league, would mean a lot.

Being on a playoff team and playing with that pressure as a rookie will help me a lot in the future. It will be very important that I was able to get this experience early. It means there’s no excuses in the seasons to come. I know what it’s like and I’ll be ready to go. To have that experience early I think will be a help to the rest of my career, especially if we can make a deep run this year.

The thumb injury was the low point of the season. I was pretty depressed and couldn’t wait to get back out there. I’m happy with the way I used that time, though. I got my body better. I watched a lot of film. I look at it as a little negative, but I look at more positive than anything.

The physicality was the toughest adjustment. Everyone says speed of the game. The speed of the game came pretty easy to me. But the physicality – facing vets, adjusting to the calls, you don’t get a lot of calls as a rookie from the refs. That was definitely the toughest part for me to pick up.

I’ll be in Indianapolis most of the summer. We have not really talked about it much at all so I’m not sure with my teammates are doing, but I know I’m going to be here in Indianapolis. I’m not sure about summer league. My plan is to play. But it just depends on what the staff recommends and wants to do.

I definitely want to work on my post game a little bit more. Just have more of a repertoire down there. And improve my body, of course, and build off everything I did this year. I don’t want to have any drop offs from this year so I’m going to keep working this summer to improve my overall game.

To sum up the regular season of my rookie year, it was more than you bargained for. In a good way.

Rookie Diary, Volume 8: Kristaps Porzingis

 

Apr 6, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks power forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) on the sidelines during a time out during the first quarter against the Charlotte Hornets at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Kristaps Porzingis was forced to sit out down the stretch of his rookie season with a strained right shoulder.

Kristaps Porzingis of the Knicks and Myles Turner of the Pacers will alternate on a weekly diary for NBA.com covering life as a rookie, from challenges and success on the court to adjusting to their new world off.

This week: Porzingis discusses his 2015-16 season and plans for the summer.

I think the transition went pretty smooth. Obviously it’s different once you start playing in the NBA. There’s so much attention and everything, but I think it went pretty smooth. It was more difficult for me moving from Latvia to Spain when I was 14, 15 years old than the move now when I moved from Spain to the United States.

That’s the best feeling, that you actually feel comfortable and you feel like you belong there. I think I found that place. It took me a lot longer, for example, when I moved to Spain to feel comfortable and feel like I really wanted to be there. But here in New York, it was right from the beginning. I just felt like this is the place where I want to be for however long my career is. I really feel comfortable in New York and I hope to stay there for a long time.

As far as this season, the atmosphere with my teammates was better than I expected. I was not surprised, but it was nice to see that all of them were really good teammates and good guys that helped me out right from the beginning. Having that was really important for me, just to get adjusted to everything easier. That was one positive right from the start.

My debut was definitely a highlight. The first game. We played against Milwaukee. It was a dream come true for me to step on an NBA floor and we got the win and I had a decent game. It was really a special moment for me.

All-Star weekend was a big moment for me too. I was able to have that weekend with my family. That would be up there.

The No. 1 thing going to the next season will be me knowing what the schedule is like, how tough it is, those 82 games during the season and how well prepared you’ve got to be that schedule. That’s now one thing that I’ll be ready for.

The schedule is just way different in Europe. You play one game a week and you have the whole week to rest, you have the whole week to recover. Here it might be four games in a week. It’s a crazy schedule. That probably was the biggest adjustment for me. And the ball is a little different. The rules are a little different. There’s no three seconds in the paint on defense in Europe and they have that here. Those are the little things I had to think about at the beginning of the season to not get those called during the season.

I’m probably going to stay here in New York for the next few weeks. We have some team activities. I’m going to keep working on my shoulder to recover 100 percent. I don’t really know what to expect after that. It’s my first year. But I’ll definitely stay a while in New York. It’s like my home now basically.

For the most part I’m going to be in New York. I’ll go home with my family, back home in Latvia, and hopefully I can be really away from everything and just relax there. I’ll rest for maybe a couple weeks and get back to work. I’ll probably go to Vegas to work out. I’m not 100 percent sure about the schedule. But I’m looking forward to the offseason because this is going to be a huge offseason for me to come back next season stronger and better and help the team win.

I don’t know yet about summer league. I wouldn’t mind playing. I had fun the first time I played and if I could help out the guys with the triangle or whatever we’re doing and help out the guys and I can be there participating, I’ll be happy.

I also have to make a decision about whether to play for Latvia. I really want to play for my country and compete. I really want to represent my country this summer, but I have to be smart about this decision. I’m going to sit down, take my time, make a decision and then see what happens.

Rookie Diary, Volume 7: Kristaps Porzingis


VIDEO: Porzingis discusses his Steph Curry shot and his health

Kristaps Porzingis of the Knicks and Myles Turner of the Pacers will alternate on a weekly diary for NBA.com covering life as a rookie, from challenges and success on the court to adjusting to their new world off. This week: Porzingis discusses how playing professionally in Europe before coming to the NBA gave him a unique advantage over rookies who came from college.

I’m doing a lot better physically. I was a little sick in L.A., but now I’m finally recovering to 100 percent and feeling better every day.

Emotionally it’s been tough. We had hoped to finish the road trip strong by beating Washington, but that didn’t happen, so that was frustrating, and then Sunday night we had a really tough game against Sacramento. We couldn’t really fight back and win the game. It was really frustrating to lose in front of our fans after that long road trip, but now we have two days off and we can recover mentally and physically and play well against Chicago on Wednesday.

We’re sticking together as a team, as a group. We’re trying to do the right things. We’re trying to play hard. It’s just not working out for us. During the season there has been a lot of ups and downs. It’s been a lot for us from a mental standpoint, just a lot going on. The mood isn’t as good as it was, obviously, because we’re losing now, but we’re trying to stay positive. We’re trying to fix the situation.

That’s something I’ve been through already. We had a similar situation in Spain last season. We started off really bad and then we kind of started to play better. The first of the season was a big struggle for us in Spain, so I kind of went through that already. Now it’s just the other way around. We started off playing good basketball and now we can’t find the way again. I’ve kind of been in this situation. I know what to expect. It’s just on a bigger stage.

That experience of two or three years playing professionally, the first one when I was kind of on a junior contract and not really with the first team, has definitely helped me. One thing, it’s just playing against grown men, day by day, and being there with the pressure. There’s pressure in college as well, but with the professionals it’s different. And you can be on a bad team. Most of the guys that come out of college and get drafted, they were on a good team in college and they were winning. That wasn’t my case. I think those years of experience in the ACB in Spain is really good for me now.

You never know that at the time. You’re living in the moment and whatever happens happens. But now, looking back, that obviously was good experience for me, those two years and I’m happy that I was in the situation that I was.

I never really had to think about whether to come to the United States for college and how that would have changed the way I looked at it. I had maybe two or three offers from Division II and Division III colleges, but I already had a professional contract. And those offers were not serious. They were like through Facebook. The coaches wrote me. It was funny to get those offers. I already had a professional contract. I couldn’t go to college.

When I was really young, when I didn’t have a professional contract, nobody really knew about me. Then once I started playing in the ACB, they knew my situation and they knew I wasn’t coming over. I think those two years, two and a half years, with the ACB team really helped me to develop and to see the real world, but at the same time it would have been fun to play in college and see how I do there.

I don’t know where I would have gone if I came to play in college instead of professionally in Spain. There are a lot of really good colleges, like Duke, Kentucky, Kansas. It would probably be one of those that I would like to go to. But you never know. That was never in my mind when I had the chance so I never really thought about it.

Rookie Diary, Volume 5: Myles Turner


VIDEO: Myles Turner soars in to swat Enes Kanter

Myles Turner of the Pacers and Kristaps Porzingis of the Knicks will alternate on a weekly diary for NBA.com covering life as a rookie, from challenges and success on the court to adjusting to their new world off. This week: Turner discusses handling rookie hazing and how it doesn’t end even as he turns into one of the top players on the team.

Nothing really much has changed. Sometimes teammates joke with me a little, that I’m not a rookie any more, I’m too big-time for them now. Stuff like that. But nothing’s really changed. I’ve still got my rookie duties. Everybody still expects me to do what I do. Nothing has changed because the minutes have changed.

The guys have been consistent. I still have to get all the Gatorade and drinks for the bus. I still have to get the breadsticks. Those are the biggest responsibilities. Before every road trip I have to go to a place and get five or six boxes of breadsticks for the flight.

Another time, when we went to Toronto, I had to fill out everybody’s customs forms. Every single one for the team. That took about 25 or 30 minutes. And the rookies have to wait last in line to go through customs. I hate that.

Monta Ellis is probably the hardest on me among the veterans as far as the rookie treatment. He asks me to do a lot of stuff out of random when we’re on the road. It can be anything. It can be going out if he wants chicken wings. Or maybe he wants me to go to the corner store to get him Gatorade or something. Little stuff like that. He just does it to mess with me sometimes.

But I would never consider saying no to anything they expect me to do. It’s just something everybody has to go through. Everybody has to go through a little bit of rookie tormenting and what not. It’s a rite of passage.

It just depends on how you look at it. It can be grueling if you’re saying, “Aw, man. Here we go again. I have to do this.” Or you can just take it with a grain of salt and say you have to do it because it’s basically your responsibility.

But it definitely helps having another rookie, Joe Young, for some of this. It makes it a lot easier for sure. There was one week when he hasn’t been here, when he was in the D-League, so he’s been with us pretty much all year.

I figured all this would come up a lot more with my family and friends asking me about it, but it hasn’t really, surprisingly. They just ask me what it’s like guarding LeBron or Carmelo and stuff like that.

I know I’ll have my chance later in my career to be on the other side. I’ll probably go easy on the rookies my next couple of years. Down the road, I’ll probably ramp it up because of what I had to go through as a rookie. I don’t have any specific ideas yet. Not yet. I’m sure I’ll come up with some.

Rookie Diary, Volume 5: Kristaps Porzingis


VIDEO: Porzingis, Towns bask in first All-Star experience

Kristaps Porzingis of the Knicks and Myles Turner of the Pacers will alternate on a weekly diary for NBA.com covering life as a rookie, from challenges and success on the court to adjusting to their new world off. This week: Porzingis discusses his first All-Star Weekend, in Toronto as a member of the World team, coached by Spurs assistant Ettore Messina, against the United States squad in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge.

The whole weekend was a lot of fun, even the day, Thursday, with a lot of media, a lot of interviews, a lot of pictures and stuff. I got to meet a lot of the rookies again and connect with all the internationals again, so it was a fun day. And then obviously the thing I was most excited for was the game.

I met coach Messina. He’s really big from coaching in Europe. To be on his team, that was great to learn from him a little bit and just to get a feel what type of coach he is. Just to be with the internationals, on the same team. It sucked that we didn’t get the win. That wasn’t fun. But the event was fun and I had a good time.

It was very organized obviously. But being with the Knicks is organized. Everything there was just perfect. There was a lot of security everywhere and making sure we were on time everywhere and doing the right thing. It was really a nice event, very well organized. I hope to come back next year.

I obviously want to be in the main game, the Sunday game, some day as well if that’s possible. My big dream is to be in the All-Star game. But I don’t want to look too far ahead. I just focus on this year first and then we can go day by day. If I keep growing as a player I think I will have an opportunity to be there one day.

That was my first time meeting coach Messina. All the Europeans kind of have an idea of what kind of coach he is. He’s not a typical NBA coach. He’s an elite coach that screams a lot. He’s that type of coach. I knew kind of what to expect, although obviously he knew what kind of game it was so he wasn’t really yelling at us or anything. But you can feel – I’m not sure how to say it – his presence and that he wants you to succeed and he wants 100 percent from you. He’s that type of coach. You never want to really mess around too much with him. He’s a very disciplined coach.

I think the biggest surprise for me was how well organized everything was and how they manage your time so you can be everywhere on time and at the same time you can relax a little bit and have that time with your family. Maybe not that I was surprised by it, but I was content about it went the whole weekend.

I think being there in my first year with my family there in Toronto and sharing that moment with them will be my best memory. We just hung out a lot. They were at the game. We went for lunch. We were hanging out whenever I had time off.

I arrived Thursday afternoon and left Saturday morning and went to the Bahamas for a quick vacation. But it wasn’t what I expected exactly because there was a lot of people from New York there. I couldn’t really hide because of my height. All day, basically, I was talking with the fans and taking pictures. I didn’t have the chance to relax.

But I was rested physically for sure when I went back to the Knicks. Maybe not as much mentally. But this break was really good for me and I think for the whole team as well, just to come back fresh. I definitely feel that I got some rest.

Rookie Diary, Volume 4: Kristaps Porzingis

VIDEO: Prozingis wins the Kia Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for January

Kristaps Porzingis of the Knicks and Myles Turner of the Pacers will alternate on a weekly diary for NBA.com covering life as a rookie, from challenges and success on the court to adjusting to their new world off. This week: Porzingis discusses preparing for his first All-Star weekend, to play for the World team against the United States roster in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge with the best rookies and second-year players on Friday night in Toronto.

I wasn’t too surprised when I was told I had been picked. But it was a goal. I wanted to be in the rookie game. I was already talking about it last season, when I was still in Spain. During this same time, I was talking with my agent and my family that “Hopefully next year or whenever. I want to be there.” So it was a good feeling to make it. It was nice to find out that I was in the game, and I’ll have my parents and two of my older brothers with me.

I would rather play in the game than have the time off during All-Star break. During the season the only thing I focus on is basketball. If you can have a few days off, that’s fine. If not, you keep working. Playing at All-Star weekend was something that I wanted to do and if that’s how it is then I’m not going to get any days off.

I’ve been talking to a few of my teammates and the people who work with the team about what to expect, asking how it’s going to be. Actually you’ve got to do a lot of extra stuff, a lot of media. They’re preparing me for everything that’s coming. They’re mostly telling me that it’s not just one game and that’s it. There’s a lot of stuff going on before. Everybody’s giving me advice.

I’m looking forward to going out there with all the rookies and kind of reuniting with all of them from the rookie transition program before the season. It will be fun. I met all those guys and I stayed in touch with a lot of those guys, so it will be fun to play against them again and have fun out there.

I’m not really trying to meet somebody in particular apart from the game. But it will be nice to see all those famous people out there. Probably not for our game, but more for the big All-Star game. Maybe I’ll get to meet some rappers maybe or other people. I’m not sure yet if I’ll even go to the other events. I might. We’ll see if I stay that long in Toronto.

I’m sure I will be thinking when I’m there about playing in the All-Star game one day. That’s one of my goals, that I want to be there. I want to be an All-Star. Right now I’m really focusing on what’s going on now and not looking two, three, four or five years in front of me. But in the long term, I obviously want to be there. I want to be part of the big event.

That’s motivation for me, how hard you’ve got to work to be there and to make it. That’s one of the rewards you get. To be one of those 24 guys that are in the All-Star game, I think that’s a dream for everybody. But I don’t want to get away from the things that are happening now. I really want to focus on what’s going on now. That opportunity might come, but I’ve just really got to focus on the day-to-day and getting better.

Every event like this is something that stays in your memory. It’s something that you achieved in your first year in the NBA. You’re able to play in the rookie game. That’s a nice thing to remember going forward and looking back 20 years from now and remembering all those good times – my first year, how I got adjusted, how I got picked for the rookie game. Those are good memories. Nothing will be able to replace that.

Rookie Diary, Volume 4: Myles Turner

VIDEO: Myles Turner shows off a nice move during his first career start.

Myles Turner of the Pacers and Kristaps Porzingis of the Knicks will alternate on a weekly diary for NBA.com covering life as a rookie, from challenges and success on the court to adjusting to their new world off. This week: Turner discusses getting his first career start as Indiana played the Hawks on Thursday night.

Coach Vogel had called me the night before the game and told me he was going to give me an opportunity to start. I was ready for it. I was just over-the-moon excited about it and wanted to go out there and have a good showing.

It still had to be business as usual, though. That’s the way you’ve got to look at it. I was really excited about the opportunity but I couldn’t get overexcited. I just wanted to show everyone why I deserved it.

My parents were actually here at the time, so I told them. They were ready for it as much as I was. Actually, they were probably more excited than I was. My dad especially. ‘Man, don’t screw this up.’ He was excited for me. He was ready to see me get it going.

This was definitely earned, not given. That’s the way I look at it. I think I just showed the coaches how confident I was out there and how I care about stuff on the court so that I was ready for this opportunity. I think that was probably the biggest thing. I think it’s really just the fact I’m going out there and carrying myself in a way that the coaches are used to. That confidence was giving me the opportunity to go out there and play well.

The biggest part was when the starting lineups were announced. That’s when it became most surreal. But I was ready for the opportunity, I was excited and I was ready to go.

It felt a little different at the start of the game. Instead of bringing energy off the bench, I had to bring the energy right off the bat. It’s not something I would say I wasn’t used to doing, but it was a different sensation for sure. It’s the first time I’ve really started in a long time. I didn’t really start the games in college at Texas, so it was a different sensation I haven’t felt since really high school. It was a huge difference. It was a nice little preview of what is hopefully more to come.

I wouldn’t say there was extra pressure to produce since I was starting. There probably was a little more added pressure, but that was only the pressure I put on myself. That was the main thing. Other than that, it was fun.

I’ve worked really hard to get to this position. To know that it’s working out for the best, that’s the biggest thing for me right there. Anybody can say anything on any given night, but I know I’m out there doing what I’m capable of doing. I’m just excited for the opportunity and for what’s to come.

Rookie Diary, Volume 3: Kristaps Porzingis


VIDEO: Kristaps Porzingis nominee for January’s Rookie of the Month

Kristaps Porzingis of the Knicks and Myles Turner of the Pacers will alternate on a weekly diary for NBA.com covering life as a rookie, from challenges and success on the court to adjusting to their new world off. This week: Porzingis discusses being in contention for Rookie of the Year and what the award would mean to fans in New York and his native Latvia. 

Rookie of the Year is secondary for me. It’s nice to have that recognition and that people recognize what I’m doing for the team. But the best reward is making the playoffs and the team having success there. If that happens then I’ll be able to feel better about the season.

I follow other rookies because I’ve gotten to know some of the guys and we stay in touch. Obviously I’m following the NBA, anything about it, so part of that is I’m paying attention to how the rookies did every game. It’s fun to follow those guys. Hopefully I can play a lot of years with all those guys I’ve met.

Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor, they’re playing at a fantastic level right now. They’re good for their teams and their making a lot of plays for their teams. Those two are the best rookies I’ve seen. It’s between us three. Those guys are playing really good basketball and I’m trying to do the same thing. I don’t know how you evaluate who’s been the best. Is it team success? Is it only individual success? But they’re good for their teams.

Winning the award will just show a lot of people who thought I wasn’t ready that I was actually ready my first season. That’s nice to get an award. But it all starts with team success. If the team wins, that’s when all those kind of awards come. That’s the main focus. But obviously it would be very nice to receive awards like that.

I think winning Rookie of the Year would mean a lot to people in New York. We could give them some hope that we’re heading in the right direction and I can be a part of that. That would not only be nice for us, the team, but especially for the city and the fans. They’ve been waiting for that.

And I think people in Latvia would be extremely proud of me. It’s not every day we have a player in the NBA and especially one that is able to play in the first season. They would be really proud of me. That’s one of the things I’m trying to do, make them proud.

I don’t know exactly how big it would be there. I think a lot of people know who I am, but I don’t know if they know much about what the rookie award is. They would all be

really happy about it and for me. I don’t think it would be like a championship celebration, but I think they would definitely be happy for me.

Rookie Diary, Volume 3: Myles Turner


VIDEO: Myles Turner swats away James Harden

Myles Turner of the Indiana Pacers and Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks will alternate on a weekly diary for NBA.com covering life as a rookie, from challenges and success on the court to adjusting to their new world off. This week: Turner discusses the transition from college to the NBA compared to the jump just before from high school to college.

It’s a little weird to think I was in high school two seasons ago. I was actually just discussing that with one of my friends. It’s quite odd. Time flies. It feels like a month ago you were at the prom and what not, and now I’m here.

Going from college to the pros is definitely a bigger jump than high school to college. In high school, I had the chance to play with USA Basketball. That really got me ready for the whole college ball thing, as far as the speed of the game and what not. But going from college to the pros, the strength of the game is so much different. It’s crazy.

I check in with friends from high school and see how they’re doing, but everybody’s pretty much doing their own thing. It’s general conversation for the most part — how are things going? Just keeping everything real.

But I’ll get a lot of questions about the NBA. “How’s the money treating you?” “How are the girls?” “How is LeBron James?” “How’s Kevin Durant?” Little stuff like that. General questions that they don’t get to ask every day. Sometimes I have to decide between what to tell them and what not to tell them. But for the most part I’m pretty straight up with it.

Going from college to the NBA is hard socially as well. It’s hard. After classes at Texas, after practice, we’d all go hang out with each other. Now it’s like everybody has to go home to their families. It’s definitely a huge adjustment in that aspect. Everybody is not friends. You’re cool with everybody. You’re brothers. But at the end of the day everybody has their life away from the court as well.

One of my friends lives with me. He’s one of my best friends ever since elementary school. He goes to college up here. He runs track at Butler. Having him here definitely helps. Not having him here would hurt. For sure.

Sometimes I miss the social aspect of college, a little bit of the structure, just knowing what I’m going to be doing every day, just being able to hang out and stuff. But I wouldn’t trade this for anything in the world. I was tired of school. I once told my parents that once I’m done with school I’m done with school. But it’s a little different now. I want to go back for my degree because I’ve had good times.

I’d probably like to get my degree in counseling psychology. I’ve just always liked helping people. Helping people through a tough situation, a hard problem, I kind of get a kick out of that. I could see taking classes when I’m still playing, when it’s easier to do at some point after I get past my rookie season. Probably not this summer but next summer I’ll try and get ready for it.

Campus life was different. It’s your first time on your own, you have friends and everybody gets to hang out with each other. You’re on your own for the first time. It was fun. I loved the city of Austin. I would go back anytime I get an opportunity. The city itself is an amazing city. I love it there. The scenery, there’s always something to do. It’s a weird town — weird in a good way. It has a different vibe to it. I just love the city. All the different types of food and everything. That too.

It’s a lot slower here, but people are nice. They’re cool. It’s the Midwest. It’s not hard to adjust to because not a lot goes on here. I’m able to keep my head on straight.

It was a little rough at first because you don’t always have the same constant connection with teammates like you did in college, but I got used to it in the summertime. Having my friend here has been good. If he wasn’t here it’d definitely be harder. It’d be boring. You’d be sitting here talking to yourself at times.

Guys like Monta Ellis have their kids. It’s kind of odd. It’s almost like they’re old enough to be my dad in some aspects. It’s kind of funny. Sometimes my teammates try to make fun of me and call me “15,” like “15 years old” and stuff like that. I really don’t care about all that. They’re just kidding. It’s all in fun.

Rookie Diary, Volume 2: Kristaps Porzingis


VIDEO: Knicks’ rookie Kristaps Porzingis is all the rage in New York

Kristaps Porzingis of the Knicks and Myles Turner of the Pacers will alternate on a weekly diary for NBA.com covering life as a rookie, from challenges and success on the court to adjusting to their new world off. This week: Porzingis discusses winning over the fans who were skeptical before the draft, especially the young Knicks supporter who was captured crying when New York selected Porzingis but was photographed a couple weeks ago wearing a Porzingis jersey.

Somebody, I think my brother, told me the kid had my jersey a while before the picture came out. I actually saw the kid when we were warming up one day before the picture came out. He was on the sideline and he was giving me high fives all the time, but I didn’t realize it was that kid. His dad was there too, to take a picture, me with him. That would have been real fun to take that picture. We didn’t because I didn’t realize it was that kid and I was warming up. We’ve got to make it happen now. I told my brother whenever he sees that kid he’s got to bring him to the sideline so we can take a picture.

I will joke around with him a little bit, but not too hard. He’s still a kid. What would I say to him? I would ask if it was him who was crying at the draft and why was he crying. To hear the explanation from the kid, that would be funny.

I remember the reaction from fans on Draft Night. It still sits inside of me a little bit. But I wasn’t bothered by it then and now I’m bothered even less. They’re cheering for me now obviously and that’s good. I was able to turn those boos into cheers. But it was more because they didn’t know me, they didn’t know my game, they didn’t know I really loved New York and that was the place I wanted to be. For me to turn them around was not so hard. I just played my game, had a few good games and I think for the most part they kind of fell in love with me a little bit.

I didn’t know how fast it was going to happen until I won them over. But that’s the New York crowd. One moment they’re booing you and you’re not playing well, the next you’re playing well and they love you. That’s how they are. Now they’re cheering for me and they’re happy, but in a month if I’m playing bad or whatever is happening they might boo me again. It’s day-by-day with some fans. It’s day-by-day.

Part of winning them over is my personality and the fact that I know English. But at the end of the day, if I didn’t play well and I wasn’t playing at this level, they wouldn’t respect me the way they do now. They realize that I can play a little bit. That’s what really made them believe.

I’m just being myself basically. I’m not trying too hard. I’m just being myself and if they love it, good, and if they don’t love it, well I’m just going to be myself and the way I am. I’m not going to change or be fake to win over the fans.

There are a lot of Knicks fans in every city. Everywhere we go. I think a lot of people are recognizing me even when I’m on the road. I was the guy everybody was talking about before the draft that nobody knew. I think a lot of people know me because of that, because of the draft. And now that I’m playing well, they kind of got to know me a little more. I can feel it a little bit on the road, that they recognize me a little bit.

But there’s no better place to become a great player and become a great team than New York.