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How are Latvian people reacting to Kristaps Porzingis's national team snub?

P&T gets the inside scoop from former ambassador Ojārs Ēriks Kalniņš.

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Most Knicks fans were delighted by the news that Kristaps Porzingis would forgo a chance to play for the Latvian national team in order to heal and prepare for the 2016-17 season. He did, after all, miss the final seven games of 2015-16 with a shoulder injury.

But let us not ignore the feelings of our Latvian brothers and sisters. It must pain them that their beloved Kristaps will not suit up for the Fighting Storks -- a nickname for the Latvian national team that I made up just now. What is the mood of the Latvian people now that Kristaps won't be playing for the national team this summer? Did they have high hopes that he would play, or was this expected?

For the Latvian perspective, we turn to former ambassador and friend of the site Ojārs Ēriks Kalniņš:

"Not much reaction here at all. Yes, some are disappointed, but most, like me, want to see Kristaps succeed professionally first. These first years are critical for his development, especially going into his second season. But we will expect him on the Latvian National team four years from now after he has led the Knicks to a championship.

"By then, the Latvian team, which has never been to the Olympics will be ready for him.By the way, Latvia traditionally is an ice hockey power. Watch us at the Winter Games.

"Also, Kris has already done so much for Latvia and his home town of Liepaja. People respect and appreciate that. So let him heal, grow stronger, smarter, and better. We can wait."

Kristaps is indeed taking care of his hometown -- earlier this week he donated a substantial sum to his former coach. It's nice to know most Latvians aren't holding this against our boy. All he wants to do is dominate the basketball world, and in time he'll take both Knicks fans and the Latvian people with him. He's a saint!


Here's an interview with Kristaps's first coach. It is adorable.