Two NBA superstars will go head-to-head in The Garden Monday night as LeBron James and the Cavs travel to face Kristaps Porzingis and the Knicks.
James and Porzingis are opposites in many categories except for the fact that they are the face of their respective franchises. The 22-year-old Porzingis says he has watched players like James, Kobe Bryant, and Michael Jordan to see how they have conducted themselves on and off the court.
"Oh yeah, of course," Porzingis told The Post after practice Sunday. "There are a lot of things. Obviously off-the-court stuff, not just LeBron, but more and more [guys]. 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 [James] also. There are a lot of things you can learn from guys like that."
The main lesson he is learning is how to deal with the media, and having to deal with New York media is a necessity.
"Just for example, how to talk to the media. That's an important part of our job," he said. "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."
Porzingis, who is only in his third year in the NBA, is a star in the biggest sports city in the country. With that, comes incentives like having influence on the team. But Porzingis knows that influence is earned, not handed out.
"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."
Off-the-court etiquette is key for any superstar to sustain a good image. But the main focus for Porzingis will always be trying to perfect his game on the court.
"I really focus on basketball. I haven't really thought that as much. That will come," Porzingis said. "If you play good, all those things will come and you have the power to do things better for your organization, for your people, for the league and for your team, so I haven't really thought about that as much."
Porzingis is currently averaging 30.4 points, which is good for third-best in the NBA this season.