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Tales of baby Kristaps Porzingis

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So cute, so deadly at the rim!

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Stories of Kristaps Porzingis's youth have already become the stuff of legend among Knicks fans. Who could forget the cornrows, or the encounter with the Polish border police? Good times.

Still, precious few facts were known about the very genesis of the Kristaps Era ... until now. This SLAM cover story digs deep, to Porzingis's introduction to the game of basketball.

Both of Kristaps' parents were involved with the game -- his dad (6-4), a bus driver, played semiprofessionally, while his mom (6-1) played on Latvian national youth teams -- and a plastic hoop hung on his bedroom wall in Liepaja, Latvia, before he could stand up on his own. According to his older brother Martins, the second word he ever spoke was "ball" -- the first was "mom" -- and before he could string a full sentence together, he was wearing out that little rim. "As soon as [Kristaps] started to walk, he was already dunking the ball," says Martins, who's 10 years older than Kristaps.

"There was a bigger basketball hoop above the door," Kristaps says. "[But] I was too small. I couldn't score on that one. And [my brothers] were playing HORSE on that one. Until I grew, I was playing on the little hoop right next to it. That was my first memory of basketball."

The Latvian word for "ball" is bumba. Try to imagine baby Kristaps yelling, "bumba!" all day, everyday. Picture baby Kristaps, sitting on his diapered Kristaps fanny, tossing a tiny bumba at his little Kristaps hoop. He was probably dunking over his stuffed animals by 15 months.

And then tiny Kristaps looked up, to the big-boy hoop: One day I will be tall, so tall I can dunk on any hoop! I will dunk over my big brothers! I will dunk over LaMarcus Aldridge and the entire Raptors team. I will be the bumba king!

So it was written.