Dallas Mavericks power forward Kristaps Porzingis said he's not sure what type of reaction he'll receive when he returns to Madison Square Garden on Thursday to face the New York Knicks, his former team.
Porzingis recorded 28 points, nine rebounds and five blocks in the Mavs' 106-102 loss to the Knicks on Friday night at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Afterward, the focus shifted to his playing at MSG for the first time as an opposing player, per Alex Smith and Ian Begley of SNY.
"I don't know, I don't know," Porzingis said. "Probably a lot of noise. I don't know if it's going to be positive or negative. But it's going to be a lot of emotion, I think from the fans and for me also, coming back to New York. Its going to be interesting.
"I'm looking forward to the game. I spent [three], four years of my life living there. It's going to be special coming back to New York for sure."
The 24-year-old Latvia native was a beloved member of the Knicks for most of his tenure after being selected by the storied franchise with the fourth overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft. His relationship with the organization crumbled in the latter stages, though.
Knicks president Steve Mills told reporters in May that Porzingis demanded a move before last season's trade deadline and threatened a return to Europe if no deal was found.
After the trade, Porzingis made cryptic Instagram posts in which he declared "The truth will come out" and "The city deserves better than that... My suggestion for knicks fans is to STAY WOKE!! Peace."
The 2017-18 All-Star commented on his departure from New York on Thursday:
Mike Vorkunov @MikeVorkunov
Kristaps Porzingis on how it ended with Knicks: "With all the emotions going on in that moment when I got traded I put out some stupid Instagram stories laying in my bed late at night like, man, I got traded. We all make mistakes... It got a little bit ugly but it's in the past." https://t.co/IQXXc838sG
Porzingis is off to a strong start with the Mavericks. He's averaging 20.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.6 blocks while shooting 38.5 percent from three-point range across eight games. It's laid the foundation for him to form one of the league's best tandems with Luka Doncic for the 5-3 Mavs.
Those divergent paths paired with Porzingis' ugly exit from New York may lead the boos to outweigh the cheers Thursday night inside the Garden.