Michael Porter Jr. has thus far been a pretty polarizing draft prospect.
Some say he’s great, maybe even amazing. Some say he could be a bust. Others simply say he’s mysterious. But most importantly, if reports are to be believed, he could maybe be the apple of the Knicks’ eye.
None of that mattered yesterday though, during a mild summer evening in midtown when I was invited to come interview Porter at the LIDS on 42nd street by New Era Cap, the official cap of the NBA draft. (Plug, plug, plugging away.)
During our brief talk together, Porter was mostly modest and to the point. But one moment made a pretty fun anecdote.
The New Era folks gave Porter a pair of tickets to the draft tomorrow to give to a fan. Any fan during the meet-and-greet, his choice. At first he joked about giving them to a pretty girl (maybe typical of the guy who once was picking out “baddies” from the bench in one of the more memeable moments of this past college basketball season).
But once push came to shove, Porter gave the tickets to a teenager of about 15 years old, who gushed about his MPJ fandom and said he cried when Porter got hurt for the season last year. The kid whooped his way out of the store. It was a cute moment for sure, pictured in the second pic here:
Thank you to the young stud @MPJr and @NewEraCap for coming through our Times Square store and chilling with some huge fans! He even surprised one fan with some NBA Draft tickets ! Good luck in the NBA Draft tomorrow fam, and keep up the grind. #NBADraft #NewEraCap #StayHungry pic.twitter.com/q7d0pndQnp— LIDS (@lids) June 20, 2018
There was also a guest appearance by Porter’s younger brother Jontay!
So it would seem that Porter has a heart of gold, but how does he feel about his game, a potential life in New York, and snapback hats vs. fitted hats? Here’s your answers:
P&T: The draft is tomorrow, so walk me through a little bit of what you’re feeling right now.
MIchael Porter Jr.: Oh you know, I’m excited, a little anxious to see what city I’ll end up in. But I just can’t wait for the time when my name is called.
P&T: A lot of people are trying to figure out what position you’re going to play at the next level. You’re 6-foot-10, you have some skills that could translate to the small forward, some that could translate to the power forward. So what do you think your future is going to be?
MPJ: I think it’s just whatever the team needs. You know, I feel like I can play multiple positions. And hopefully whatever team drafts me will see that and uses me in multiple ways.
P&T: What are some of the biggest strengths you think you’re going to bring to the NBA, and what are some things you’ve been working to improve on?
MPJ: I think my scoring, I can always score the ball. And my IQ and my willingness to win. I think I have to work on my passing a little bit, and just trusting my teammates.
P&T: So obviously Donovan Mitchell took everyone by storm last year. Do you think if you’re given a green light in the NBA, sort of like what he was given with the Jazz, that you could have a similar impact on a team next year?
MPJ: Yes sir, no doubt.
P&T: Cool. Short, sweet, to the point. Do you have any idea as of right now where you think you might be drafted?
MPJ: Honestly, I have no idea. I could be drafted anywhere. My situation’s a little different than a lot of guys. That’s part of the excitement, though.
P&T: So I’m here from a Knicks blog, Posting and Toasting, so all of us are probably hoping that you make it to the Knicks at pick nine. But I saw a quote from you earlier today that said that you are thinking that maybe they might even try to move up to get you. So if you would get on the Knicks, what would be your thoughts about playing with Kristaps Porzingis, Frank Ntilikina and all of the young core that they’ve built up there?
MPJ: If they were to possibly move up, it’d be amazing. I feel honored that they’d want me on their team that much. And I think it’d be cool playing alongside (Porzingis), he’s a great player, he’s a franchise player, and it would be cool to play with him and build something special here.
P&T: How have you liked New York so far? I’m sure you’ve been around the area for at least a little bit now. What do you think of the city?
P&T: Yeah, tell me!
MPJ: I like being here for a few minutes, then I’m ready to go. If I played here, I’d probably live outside the city, though. But I love the atmosphere, and I love the fan base and how strongly they support their team.
P&T: I live in New Jersey, you can come bunk with me if you want, for a couple days. So let’s say you ended up here through the draft. The New York media is relentless, and I’m very nice compared to the rest of them. So what do you think about dealing with that sort of lifestyle here, with the constant attention?
MPJ: I think I’d be ready for it. I’ve had a lot of media attention just based on my story and my injury, and people just questioning... a ton of questions. I’ve answered a lot of hard questions, so I think I’d be ready for it.
P&T: This one’s about your family and about your college situation. So your brother Jontay played with you last year on Missouri, and you guys were both early entries into the draft, and he pulled out. Were you any part of that decision, helping him with that? And do you think it would have been cool, in a way, if you guys could’ve gone through this whole process together and both heard your names called on the same night?
MPJ: I thought it was big time for him to be able to make his own decision and not feel pressured in any way. So I’m proud of him. But I didn’t really have any say. I told him what I thought, but at the end of the day, it was his call.
P&T: But would you have liked it if you guys could’ve been able to do that together?
MPJ: It makes no difference to me, it’s whatever works for him.
P&T: And, lastly, I have to ask since we’re here with team New Era, do you like fitteds or snapbacks better?
MPJ: Honestly, I used to rock snapbacks all the time, but I’m more fitted now. And I wear a ton of beanies. So when they said I could have a deal with New Era, I was so excited, because I got some free hats, and I always loved hats.
P&T: I’ll tell you, one more selling point of New York, it’s cold here all winter, so you can wear beanies all winter.
If listening is more your speed, my five minutes with MPJ are on today’s Locked On Knicks. And if you're interested, check out New Era's Path to the Cap video starring D'Angelo Russell: