The special super-geniuses at the New York Knicks-focused blog Posting and Toasting brightened our darkened corners Wednesday evening with the revelation that, long before he was a 7-foot-3 unicorn of a future cornerstone, Kristaps Porzingis was just a li'l Latvian slugger trying to live his best adolescent life through follicular expression:
As amazing as it is simply to get a glimpse of the way-back-when of a proto-Porzingis looking like a cross between mid-boy-band Timberlake and "Interview with the Vampire" Dunst, it was even more splendid to learn Thursday that, unlike Justin, Porzingis proudly owns his cornrowed past, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:
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"I loved the look," the Knicks rookie said, "and all the girls loved it." [...]
"I wore that for like two years," he explained before Thursday's preseason finale against the Celtics. "I think like nine to 12 (years old), maybe like 13 even, something like that."
If you thought it'd be hard to get a good cornrow braiding in Latvia, think again. Porzingis said he was re-braided almost every week to keep his rows fresh.
"My hair would not look good after a week," he said. "I remember it was painful."
Pain is beauty, Kristaps. Pain is beauty.
Alas, like teammate Carmelo Anthony before him, Porzingis decided to move away from his braids and adopt a closer-cropped look. Evidently, though, hairstyle history isn't all Kristaps and 'Melo — excuse me: Me7o — will share.
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As noted in Wednesday's Knicks season preview, head coach Derek Fisher "wants Porzingis to be the starting power forward on opening night," believing that a front line of Anthony, Porzingis and expected defensive linchpin Robin Lopez can provide the combination of shooting prowess, scoring touch, rebounding acumen and long-armed defense that can help New York get off to better starts this season. Injuries have prevented the five-man unit of that trio alongside the veteran backcourt of Jose Calderon and Arron Afflalo from sharing the floor thus far this preseason, but that's expected to change when the Knicks take on the Boston Celtics on Thursday night in their final exhibition tune-up before opening the regular season next Wednesday.
As Fisher sees it, it's time to find out how the giant 20-year-old whom Phil Jackson tabbed as the future of his franchise with the No. 4 pick in June's draft fits into the present-day mix, according to Al Iannazzone of Newsday:
"We're going to find out if he's ready," Fisher said before the Knicks prepared to play the Celtics. "He has the ability. He has the desire to be good. He works at it really hard and we do believe in the versatility that he offers our team offensively and defensively. That's why he'll probably be out there to start the season as our four.
"Ultimately what's best for the team is what decision I'll make. Nothing is set in stone. But I think Kris will have a great opportunity to start the season."
It remains to be seen whether Porzingis will open the season looking more like Shawn Bradley or a beatific blend of arguably the two best European big men ever. Perhaps Kristaps would improve his chances of the latter outcome by taking some sage advice from noted life coach Deion Sanders — "If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good. If you play good, they pay good." — and turning today's crewcut into tonight's corn maze. It is Throwback Thursday, after all.
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