NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Thursday, November 26, 2015, 12:22 PM
Kristaps Porzingis, a rookie from Latvia, is eager to experience his first Thanksgiving.
ORLANDO – Kristaps Porzingis celebrated his first Thanksgiving on Thursday, without an American perspective of the holiday, but with a very strong appreciation of where he stands in life. And, more importantly, a thankfulness about who is surrounding him.
Porzingis brought his whole family to live with him in New York. It’s a crowded group of five very tall Latvians, with two parents and three brothers living in an apartment that has Kristaps planning an upgrade.
“It’s too small. We need something bigger so that’s why we’re moving to a house so everybody can have their own space,” the Knicks rookie told the Daily News. “Obviously there are arguments in the family always, but we just love being together.
“We need something bigger. We’re big people and my friends are coming to visit.”
Family serves as the driving force in Kristaps’ career. It’s rooted in a desire to capitalize on the gifts that weren’t afforded his oldest brother.
Janis Porzingis, 33, was a diligent worker but never left Europe during a pro basketball career that spanned over a decade, bouncing around to several different teams in multiple leagues. Kristaps, the tallest of the Porzingis clan at 7-3, views his success as an obligation to Janis’ grind.
“He wasn’t the most talented guy and how hard he worked, that kind of set the bar for me that I will do all that I can to be the best player that I can be,” said Kristaps, who has translated his physical gifts into a salary of over $ 4 million. “I have more potential than he had but that’s why I want to get to that level and just work as hard as he did.
“But yeah, they’re definitely what drives me, what makes me want to be a great player.”
For a long time basketball separated the family, with the brothers scattered around Europe in pursuit. Now it’s bringing them together in New York.
The brothers, including the middle one, Martins, speak fluent English, so the transition should be easy. The father, Talis, a former bus driver in Latvia, is eager to learn the language, but his wife Ingrida is stubborn about these things.
“Mom doesn’t want to learn,” Kristaps said. “She lived in Spain for a year without knowing the language. She still found a way to live there.”
They’re all embracing Thanksgiving.
“We’ll have a family dinner,” Kristaps said. “This will be my first time. As I’m here a lot of people explain to me what it is and for the first time in my life I’ll celebrate.”