What is the definition of hype? I hopped online and looked it up. "Hype" is defined as "extravagant or intensive publicity or promotion."
We are often guilty of over-hype in New York City. Remember when Jeremy Lin took over this city and "Linsanity" was born? It was the 2011-12 season and Lin played 35 games and started 25 and averaged 14 points and over six assists. There was that unforgettable moment at MSG when he outdueled Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. It was a strange time in this city, as the Knicks were starving for relevancy. Lin provided it for awhile. But in the end, he was the product of a hype machine.
He was good, but he was not that good. He came around at the right time and played well, but certainly was not what he was made out to be. Stories were written about his rise from basketball obscurity to stardom. It was too much too soon.
I bring up the Linsanity example because I think it plays with Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis. Magic Johnson is already calling Porzingis the steal of the draft. He was the fourth overall selection, so I am not sure you could exactly call him a steal, but I get where Magic is coming from. He likes what he sees and Porzingis has the look of a franchise player so far. Porzingis has gotten off to a great start and has displayed his freakish combination of size and basketball instincts.
But, he has not played even a full month of NBA basketball yet. There are still great concerns about whether or not he can hold up physically to the rigors of an 82-game regular season. So, maybe we should just slow our roll on Porzingis.
The Knicks fan has taken to the 20-year-old Latvian. He stands 7-foot-3 and has a great presence about him. He knows he has the skill and ability and does not care what anyone thinks. He is not arrogant about it, just confident. This market does not seem too big for him and he seems to understand the challenge ahead of him. Porzingis also seems to have a passion for the game and a drive to be great. Sometimes that is the biggest challenge of all when looking at young players. Do they have the drive to be great?
Porzingis not only has the game, but also has that drive. This is different than Lin because the jaw dropping talent and ability is there. The Knicks are watchable this season and a lot of it has to do with the Latvian. This is not waxing poetic. From the follow-up dunks, to the perfect form jump shots, there is a lot there and a lot to like. He deserves the high praise because he has the POTENTIAL to be that good. And I feel confident in saying this: when the Knicks are ready to contend for an NBA title, the face of the franchise will be Kristaps and the team will flow through Porzingis. You never felt that way about Lin.
My dad would always tell me growing up that basketball was the city's game, and he is right. However, it has been way too long since this city had the Knicks relevant. Way too long since they had a young piece that other NBA teams feared. Phil Jackson downplayed what Porzingis was going to be in his first season. That certainly took pressure off of him. But we know he is the real deal and you can legitimately get excited about where this Knicks team is going. Jackson was told by basketball adviser Clarence Gaines Jr. that drafting Porzingis was a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” No truer words could have been said. Gaines realized it then and we are all realizing it now. Linsanity was fun. The Zinger is real.