Kristaps Porzingis is hard. The 7'3" big man from Latvia may weigh as much as your little sister, but he is beasting supposedly tough NBA opponents inside, ranking sixth in offensive rebound percentage.
Now Kristaps is starting to bring some of that feistiness to his interview sessions, where he balks at the assertion that we should be surprised by his rugged, all-out playing style (via Newsday's Al Iannazzone):
"It's a weird question," Porzingis said. "That's the way I should be. I should be aggressive on the court, especially now playing in the NBA. I always got to stay sharp and aggressive on the court. That's the way I am. That's the way I should play always. Those moments when I'm not aggressive, I catch myself."
That's just the way I am. Indeed it is, young sir.
Most people don't have to God-given talent to ball like Kristaps, but thanks to this handy guide, any 20-year-old rookie can show an interviewer just what it means to be a badass on the level of Zingis Khan.
Step 1: Be succinct
Porzingis, asked if he's surprised by how well he's played this far: "No."— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) November 8, 2015
Why would Kristaps be surprised? He's been watching Kristaps ball for years -- nobody knows Kristaps better than Kristaps. Next question!
Step 2: Choose an appropriate role model
From the moment American basketball fans laid eyes on Kristaps, they've been searching for the perfect European comparison -- supporters often chose Dirk Nowitzki, while detractors loved to bring up Andrea Bargnani.
As for Kristaps himself, he has a different, more badass role model in mind: Oklahoma City point guard/human threshing machine Russell Westbrook.
"It's not that I have to prove anything or that I can relax," Porzingis said. "That's the way I should be every day. For example, Russell Westbrook, he never relaxes. He's always super-aggressive. That's the way you have to be. You have to have that mentality every time you step on the floor."
Don't feel ashamed if you cry after reading this quote, Knicks fans. I know I did.
Step 3: Acknowledge the implied cultural bias used against you
Euros are soft.
Assuming he were of the same height and weight as he is now, would Kristaps have come with the neon pink "not ready for NBA physicality" label if he were Chris Porter from the University of Wisconsin? One thing's certain -- there wouldn't be nearly as much skepticism over his immediate impact if he were an American with a year of college under his belt.
Everybody's thinking it; Kristaps just wants to get it out in the open:
Kristaps Porzingis: "they thought, skinny white guy, he’s not going to be physical. But I still fight for those rebounds."— Al Iannazzone (@Al_Iannazzone) November 9, 2015
This all goes back to his pre-draft interview sessions (via The Wall Street Journal's Ben Cohen): "It's in my hands to prove I'm not a stereotypical European." He loathes that comparison -- you can hear it in his interviews and you can see it on the court.
Step 4: Let the fans know you never forget
Porzingis said the boos from draft night aren't something he still actively thinks about. But says that experience still sits inside of him.— Chris Herring (@HerringWSJ) November 8, 2015
Good for him. We don't deserve Kristaps. I'm not sure anyone deserves Kristaps.