Kristaps Porzingis has had quite the interesting summer. After his controversial decision to skip out on exit interviews with the Knicks due to (understandable) frustration with the organization, Porzingis found himself on the trade block as Phil Jackson looked to send a message to his young star that no one was untouchable. In the days leading up to the NBA Draft, rumors swirled about discussions the Knicks were having involving Porzingis, although nothing came to fruition on draft night and he remains in New York while Jackson is out.
We haven’t heard much from Porzingis this summer, who wasn’t communicative with the Knicks for much of the early offseason, but a recent interview with NBA.com’s Shaun Powell broke his silence about his offseason. Porzingis discussed Carmelo Anthony’s situation and glowed about what all he’s learned from Anthony, but the Knicks appear to be on their way to being his team when training camp starts.
That’s not an easy burden to bear as a 22-year-old, but Porzingis has handled the pressures of New York as well as you could expect any young player to through his first two seasons with the Knicks. This summer, as he told Powell, it’s been all about getting stronger as he gets ready for his third season in the NBA, both physically and mentally.
Porzingis detailed his workout schedule, which involve three separate workouts a day with weights, running, swimming, basketball, and more, but the most interesting nugget was how he’s working on building his mental toughness. Porzingis explained that he’s mesmerized by UFC star Conor McGregor’s presence and mental strength, and watches videos of McGregor’s trash talk.
“I’m still 22 and still really young but I’m trying to learn as much as I can on the court, and trying to learn as much as I can off the court as well,” Porzingis said. “I want to improve the mental side. I’m actually amazed by Conor McGregor. I’ve been watching so many of his videos, trash talking, how mentally strong he is. I’ve been really interested in that kind of stuff.”
If you were looking for a person to emulate in terms of self-confidence and bravado, there are few you could pick out that would be better than McGregor. The content of his trash talk, especially in his build up to the Mayweather fight, has been questionable at best and offensive at worst, but there may be no athlete in the world with more self confidence in his abilities than McGregor.
For Porzingis, a young player that is about to become the star on a team with a ravenous fan base in one of the most intense media markets in all of sports, finding that kind of self-confidence could be key. As for reporters in New York, if Porzingis starts taking cues from McGregor promos for his pre and post-game comments, it will be a dream come true.