Practice makes a unicorn

Kristaps Porzingis earned himself the title of the “unicorn” and inspired me to become one too.


by Delaney Hupke, Writer

It was a warm summer night in 2015, and the best NBA prospects were gathering at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Players step into the room with a hopeful glisten in their eyes while thousands of fans cheer them on. Everything about the night is perfect and it’s as if nothing can go wrong. Or at least, that’s how I imagined it would go. On that night, Latvian basketball player Kristaps Porzingis walked into the Barclays Center. He was picked fourth in the NBA Draft, a moment that should’ve been one of the best in his life Where most players are met with cheering and applause, Porzingis was met with boos.

He didn’t let this get to him though. He wasn’t going to let a few fans who probably hadn’t even seen him play get in the way of his dream and love for the game. On that night he said “It’s my passion about the game that sets me apart,” from other European players trying to make it in the NBA. And let me tell you, any time you are watching a Knicks game, you can see that passion shining through on the court.

Kristaps is in his third season now and he is looking better than ever. His average points per game has gone up by almost ten since last year, he plays more in each game, his free throw percentage is higher than ever and that’s just the start of it. They call him the “unicorn”, a title few have managed to earn. Kristaps had joined the prestigious ranks alongside Kevin Durant, Karl-Anthony Towns, Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, etc.

Think of a player that can shoot threes, make good plays, block shots, basically a well-rounded player then add about 7 feet and you’ve got yourself a “unicorn”. When you see them majestically floating up and down the court and flying around everyone you’ll see why they got this name.

Unfortunately, where Porzingis is a majestic, flying creature, I am a clumsy giraffe. My ball handling skills are sloppy and I don’t make a bunch of the shots I take. But when you think about it, he wasn’t just born with all that talent. It probably took years of practicing and perfecting, learning new plays, practicing and getting along with different teams.

“I’ll keep growing as a player, keep working out, trying to become what I want to become,” said Kristaps.

If you have ever seen me around school, you know that I am pretty tall. Also, I play basketball. Those are two of the first steps to become a unicorn. In the game of basketball, I am far from reaching that level of talent, but that won’t keep me from dreaming. I know that my basketball career is probably not going to go past high school, but there is no reason that I shouldn’t play the best I can while I am here and Kristaps Porzingis inspires me to do that.

Coming from a running background, basketball and I don’t really get along right off the bat. I’m used to the long, leisurely runs when I can talk to my friends and stop for a water break. My cross country mentality just means I have to work harder to play basketball. Basketball is all go, go, go: sprinting up and down the court, playing defense and offense, learning plays, doing well under pressure, and having barely 30 seconds to get a sip of water.

Kristaps Porzingis may be a unicorn, but he is still also a human. I can only imagine how much work he has put in and I know it has paid off. Every game he plays I can see the effort that has been put in to get there. That shows me that there is still a sliver of hope that I can be a unicorn too.

Each day when I am on my way to practice, I remind myself of my old pal the unicorn and I change my frown full of dread to a smile full of hope. Even on the bad days, I can think of him and it makes me work harder. Then after practice, I go home and as I’m sitting down for dinner I catch a glimpse of the TV and see Kristaps block a shot or shoot a three and I think to myself, you can do that too.

When I watch Kristaps Porzingis, it never fails to bring a smile to my face. In his eyes, I see that he wants to keep getting better. If Kristaps Porzingis can keep pushing to get better, even with all the talent he already has, then I should keep pushing to get better, too. He has shown me that practice, effort, and a lot of passion and heart is what I need to get better. And who knows, maybe one day I can become a unicorn too.