Last fall, I traveled to two of the three Baltic states: Latvia and Estonia. I was there to report on NATO, Russia, and all that. When I arrived in Riga, the Latvian capital, practically the first words I heard were “Kristaps Porzingis.” I told them I had traveled from New York, and I heard, instantly, “Kristaps Porzingis.”
He is a New York Knick. I live in New York, and love basketball, but I am a die-hard Detroit Piston, being from Michigan. I follow the Pistons, practically to the exclusion of other teams. I had never heard of Porzingis.
But he is possibly the most famous person in Latvia. (He is famous in New York as well.)
I mention him because he is in the news tonight. He won the NBA Skills Challenge, a side event to the All-Star game. The Skills Challenge is a test of ball-handling, passing, and shooting. And Kristaps Porzingis is King (at least of that).
I imagine that Riga will be rocking this weekend, or at least buzzing, and that goes for the rest of the Latvian nation, too. We don’t pronounce “Porzingis” the way they do. But, increasingly, we know who he is.