GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- As Kristaps Porzingis becomes the face of the Knicks in the post-Carmelo Anthony Era, he says he is taking some leadership cues from LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan.
Porzingis didn't love James' rip job on teammate Frank Ntilikina heading into Monday's Cavaliers-Knicks showdown, but he still stands to learn from James, arguably the best and most influential basketball player on the planet.
"Oh yeah, of course," Porzingis said Sunday. "There are a lot of things, obviously off the court stuff, not just LeBron but more and more Kobe, Jordan, I watched a lot of their interviews and learned how they talked to people and how they do things off the court. But him also. There are a lot of things you can learn from guys like that."
Asked for an example, Porzingis said: "Just for example how to talk to the media. That's an important part of our job, especially Kobe and Jordan. I watched a lot of their interviews and their story telling, that's very interesting how they do that. That's a great skill that they have also. Those kind of things I want to get better at."
Still, Porzingis didn't love how James spoke to the media about Ntilikina, whom the Knicks selected over former N.C. State point guard Dennis Smith Jr.
"I don't know why he made those comments," Porzingis said. "All I can say is we love Frank, we're happy with him. He's doing a great job he's playing great and he's doing what he's supposed to. I would not change frank for anybody. Simple."
Interestingly, after skipping his post-season exit interview with former Knicks President Phil Jackson last spring, Porzingis said players could impact their own franchise -- but not by using the media as a go-between.
"I think to have influence you don't need to go out and speak to the media to do something inside the organization," he said. "You want to change something that's got to stay inside. More and more maybe outside stuff you can make an impact, on the children that are watching you and things like that."
As for the immediate matchup with LeBron and the Cavs, who are struggling somewhat at 6-7, Porzingis said: "I don't care. I don't care about them. All I know is I want to win that game tomorrow against them and that's it. I'm sure as the season goes along they're going to get better as a team. They're a very experienced team but I'm not focused on them at all."
Porzingis is among the hottest players in the NBA, having scored 30+ in eight of the team's 12 games despite battling a swollen elbow that he said may require him to wear an elbow pad as the season progresses.
"No, I don't really feel anything on my shot," he said. "And in any situation it just swells up a little bit and then the swelling comes out and I'm good again."
As for the Cavs, he expects they'll want revenge for the Knicks' emphatic win in Cleveland last month, but the Knicks hope to keep things going in a positive direction. They've won 4-of-5 and 7-of-9 since an 0-3 start.
"Of course you always wants to get revenge on a team that beat you, especially at home," Porzingis said. "But they're warming up as a team this season and not taking it that seriously I would think, I'm not sure. But for me that's always there. That was the first time I got a win against them in my NBA career and it was nice to finally beat them. I'm sure they feel the same way about it."