The New York Knicks have their superstar.
A unicorn, by definition, is a mythical animal typically represented as a horse with a single straight horn projecting from its forehead. Certainly, there is no horn projecting from the forehead of Kristaps Porzingis, but his rare combination of size, length and athleticism indeed make him a unicorn.
He is rare, proving to be fragile, but rare. Mythical in his ability to make the Knicks relevant again. His ability to be a game-wrecker and to make impact plays both offensively and defensively to change the course of a basketball game gives the Knicks a player that other organizations will fear for years to come.
He is a momentum changer.
Porzingis has played like the franchise player many thought he could be when we first got a glimpse of him during his rookie season. He has been allowed to spread his wings and take ownership of this team as their franchise player. That hurdle was cleared with the trading away of Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Even though they were good friends on and off the court, Porzingis needed Melo gone to grow as a player. It was the perfect example of addition by subtraction.
It has been an interesting first nine games for the Knicks as they are 5-4, which includes being 5-1 in their last six games after an 0-3 start. There were calls for the job of head coach Jeff Hornacek after said start, which made little to no sense.
After all the initial uproar, the Knicks have actually become a watchable product and a winning one where they play an entertaining and fun brand of team basketball.
They are not a championship caliber basketball team, but what they are is a TEAM that seems to enjoy playing with and for one another. That is very important because that has not always been the case with the Knicks organization. It has been about everything else instead of playing for one another, all the drama and the side stories and the distractions that drive you crazy. It is about the basketball again. How refreshing is that?
In Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks have a big chip in the game. They have their star that has played at an MVP level through the first 8 games of the NBA season.
Just thank heavens the Knicks showed Phil Jackson the door before he followed through on his plan to trade Porzingis.
Porzingis has averaged 30.2 points per game and has scored 30 points or more in seven of the nine games so far this season, including a career-high 40 against the Indiana Pacers on Sunday night.
Yes, there will be the continued questions about his health and if he can physically hold up over the course of a long 82-game NBA regular season. At 7-foot-3, history is unkind to players of his size being able to hold up physically for a long sustained NBA career. Even with that being the case, I can easily make the argument that the game has never seen a player with the combination of his size, athleticism and skill set.
After all, he is the "unicorn."
There is a reason to be excited to watch the Knicks again and it has everything to do with Porzingis.