NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Friday, January 1, 2016, 4:34 PM
Kristaps Porzingis says living with his family helps me keep his focus on basketball.
CHICAGO – A microscope has been placed over the social lives of Knicks players, a product of two occurrences in the last two weeks of late-night revelry turning into robberies – including one violent.
But Kristaps Porzingis said Friday that he hasn’t been tempted by the nightlife of New York City, and at least one reason is that he’s not yet old enough to partake.
“I’m only 20 years old,” he said.
For the record, the drinking age in Latvia is 18. But Porzingis said he doesn’t indulge in alcohol at all, echoing what those close to him have said. He has also established a fostering entourage in White Plains where he lives with both his parents and two brothers.
“Yeah, it’s always good to have support around, especially as young as I am, and being in New York and a lot of attention,” he said “For one part, yes, my family’s around to make sure I’m doing the right thing, I’m staying out of trouble, I’m just focused on basketball and I think for me that’s great to have family around.”
Coach Derek Fisher said he didn’t place any restrictions or curfews on the Knicks for their New Year’s Eve in Chicago, even after the robbery and shooting of Cleanthony Early in front of a strip club on Tuesday morning. As Fisher noted, everybody made it to the Friday shootaround at the United Center without incident.
“I’m not worried about our group. We got back to work. We had a good session this morning. So I think everybody is excited about playing a good game against a good (Chicago) team,” the coach said. “Guys are adults. We’ve had conversations in general just about the climate that we’re in but guys still made decisions that they saw fit (for New Year’s Eve). And this morning there were no issues.”
Cleanthony Early was shot in the knee Wednesday morning at a Queens strip club.
Porzingis’ first lesson on the dangers of being an NBA player came long before the incident involving Early and the robbery of teammate Derrick Williams 11 days prior. This type of stuff was covered in the NBA’s rookie orientation.
“They’re just giving us information about guns, about when you’re going out, how you should react whenever somebody’s trying to provoke you and situations like that,” Porzingis said. “A lot of interesting people to learn from, from their situations. they told us their stories, and it was a lot of fun and at the same time stuff to think about.”
A more pressing adjustment for Porzingis currently is on the court, where he entered Friday on an 11-game stretch of dipped production and efficiency. The two most common explanations for his slide, as detailed Friday by Fisher, have been the physical grind of the NBA and adjustments from opposing defenses. Basically, he’s playing more games and minutes than ever and teams are paying more attention.
“Obviously there are times when he is more drained that others. He’s still – which is weird to say – I guess growing as a young man. Still developing physically,” said Fisher, who has benched Porzingis during crunch time of two recent games. “And the season is a grind. So they’ll be some ups and downs for him. But I think he’s done well.
“I think teams are just aware that he’s better than people thought he was to begin with. So I don’t know if they’re game planning to stop him, per se. But they know he’s good. So of course they’re going to make it harder for him to be successful. We haven’t been playing well for stretches either. So sometimes guys individually don’t look that good because the team isn’t playing good. It doesn’t mean he’s not doing well himself. So we’ll see. You can tell guys are trying to be a little physical with him at times but he’s not backing down from it.”