When the New York Knicks selected Kristaps Porzingis fourth overall in the 2015 NBA Draft, it was not greeted with unanimous positivity from the Knicks fans. Porzingis ended up having an excellent rookie season, however, and now he is beloved by the Knicks faithful. Of course, people in the know and around the league had a higher opinion about Porzingis’ potential than his team’s fans did from the beginning.
In fact, after a particularly good workout, the Los Angeles Lakers were apparently considering taking him second overall. They took D’Angelo Russell instead, but they would have bitten the bullet and selected Porzingis if they had listened to Phil Jackson.
Why is this notable? Jackson is the President of the Knicks, and he’s the one who actually picked Porzingis. Speaking to the MSG Network, Jackson had this to say of his team’s budding superstar: “We knew that he had a lot of talent. We saw that even in the workout with him shooting. And I had some fun with one of the Buss guys, and I told him after the workout: ‘You guys are going to be sorry if you don’t pick up Porzingis with the second pick.’ They didn’t, we did.”
The “Buss guys” in question are the family behind the Los Angeles Lakers, including Jim Buss, who runs basketball operations. While Jackson’s affinity for Porzingis is undeniable, it seems dubious that Jackson actually told the Lakers to take him second overall. He may be engaged to Jeanie Buss, but it seems unlikely he would just casually help out a team he no longer works for – and has a somewhat contentious relationship with. Perhaps he’s just poking the Lakers brain trust for taking Russell over Porzingis as a way to gloat about it.
Regardless, Jackson, and Knicks fans, are happy with the way things turned out. Lakers Nation, on the other hand? That remains to be seen.