On the live NBA Instagram account Monday, Dallas Mavericks center Kristaps Porzingis discussed several topics since the NBA season has been suspended due to the coronoavirus.
The show was hosted by Mavs play-by-play television broadcaster Mark Followill. And Porzingis even touched on his fascination with Mike Tyson, boxing and mixed martial arts.
Here’s a recap of some of what Porzingis and Followill discussed.
MARK FOLLOWILL: How are you feeling from a health standpoint and how are you coping with what is a unique situation that none of us have ever experienced?
KRISTAPS PORZINGIS: I’m feeling good. Just doing my duties as everybody else. Just staying at home and trying out new things and trying to keep myself busy. The situation is tough, and what I’m making sure of is that I’m staying at home and just doing what I’m supposed to.
FOLLOWILL: In terms of staying fit, I’m sure that’s on a lot of people’s mind right now. The training facilities are all closed, as we all know. The gyms are all closed here in the Dallas/Fort Worth area because of the Shelter In Place order. So, what do you do as an NBA player to try and keep yourself in some semblance of basketball shape so that whenever we do re-start again you’re as close as you possibly can be to being ready to go?
PORZINGIS: I try to do what I can. I have a little room with a lot of stuff that I use to kind of stay in shape. I have a little weight room here with a bike and stuff so I can do some cardio, and I do a little bit of boxing. I try to work on my boxing skills, too, so I have a little bag right here, a little (basketball) basket over here, too, so I can keep working on my game. Just trying to stay busy and stay in shape. We don’t know when we’re going to re-start everything, so I’m just making sure I do the max I can to just stay in shape and stay ready.
FOLLOWILL: How are you (and your teammates) staying connected to one another?
PORZINGIS: We have the group chat going on. We pretty much text each other daily. Everybody’s bored, so I think everybody’s just on their phones and talking to their family and talking to their friends and teammates. We try to stay in touch with everybody and I think we’re going to have a group call tonight, also. I’m sure that will help us keep our spirits up.
FOLLOWILL: Are you doing anything from a hobby standpoint that’s kind of unique right now?
PORZINGIS: I’m trying to build up the patience to read. That’s been something that I’ve had trouble with, but I think I’m getting better at reading books. I love boxing. I’ve always been a big fan of boxing and mixed martial arts, so I’m keeping myself entertained and doing a little bit of that myself here at home. And I’m a YouTube guy, so I’m on YouTube a lot watching videos and learning new stuff. Like I said, just trying to keep myself busy.
FOLLOWILL: What’s the lure of boxing and MMA for you?
PORZINGIS: I kind of always been a big fan of Mike Tyson. And also, now with the MMA scene growing and Conor McGregor making it such a mainstream sport, I also became a big fan of MMA. That’s something I’d love to work on also in the offseason once I’m not playing, so we’ll see. I don’t know when, but I’ve always kind of been interested in the combat sports.
FOLLOWILL: One of the things that I think we’re all missing right now besides the NBA is, if you love basketball, this is March Madness and this is the time for that. You have watched it in the past and now that we’re kind of missing it, do you think about what it would have been like to play in that atmosphere and be recruited and what American college athletes go through? How do you think that might have been if you had that opportunity?
PORZINGIS: From the stories that I hear, I always hear that college is so fun – it’s unbelievable. And I think that definitely would have been an experience I would have loved to have – just to play in college and then go from college to the NBA if I had the opportunity. But I’m happy with the route that I took, and I think it also helped me prepare for this level playing already professionally against grown men in Europe. You never know how it would have went if I did go to college, but I think that definitely would have been a fun experience.
FOLLOWILL: Have you ever thought about or have you ever shared with anyone what interest you think you might have pursued in life if basketball wasn’t your thing?
PORZINGIS: There’s a lot of things that I’m interested in. It’s just I don’t know if I have the talent or the capability to do it. I probably wouldn’t be a great fighter, but if I was a different body type that’s probably something I would have loved to do. But outside of basketball and maybe outside of sports, I’m really interested in business and entrepreneurship. So that’s something I probably would have studied much deeper and try to get a knowledge in that area.
FOLLOWILL: You told this to Derek Harper and I when we interviewed you after games on Mavericks’ television broadcast about how influential and important Mavericks assistant coach God Shammgod was in helping you get back to the level that you know you’re capable. Can you share with the viewers on Instagram how important Sham was to getting you back to the level that you could play at this year?
PORZINGIS: Sham was obviously very important, and we put a lot of work in. Also, adding new stuff, but also just getting back into the rhythm and the feel of a lot of my game. He has really helped me with that. And also, he and other coaches. Also, I’ve been watching film with (assistant coach) Jamahl) Mosley. Me, Luka (Doncic) and Mose – he’s been helping us to get a better feel for each other on the floor. Shout out to the whole coaching staff. They’ve been great, they’ve been helping us grow as the year goes on. Hopefully we can get back to work soon and keep working and keep getting better.
FOLLOWILL: What was it like down on the bench (during the Mar. 11 game against Denver) as you guys were trying to focus and play a game and hearing the news that you were hearing about the temporary stoppage of the season?
PORZINGIS: I think we all kind of were in shock. At that point we didn’t realize — at least I didn’t realize — the magnitude of this whole situation, so it was kind of a shock. Then we realized the circumstances are what they are, and now what’s the next move, what’s the next thing we have to do? Me, as a player, I’ve done the most I can to just stay safe, to do the things the team wants me to do and making sure I stay ready for whenever is the moment when we can finally get back on the court.
FOLLOWILL: I think it’s been really cool to see how the Mavs’ organizationally, led by (owner) Mark Cuban, has stepped up and been leaders in terms of offering to make sure to pay the game night arena workers. And I know there have been donations for child care for health workers, buying meals for people that are working at the mobile coronavirus testing centers. It’s got to be so cool to see how you guys have stepped up organizationally and are doing everything you can – even if you can’t entertain the community with basketball – you’re still supporting it and using your platform and playing a vital role right now.
PORZINGIS: I think it starts from the top, and I think we have a great leader in Mark who’s pushing all of this, who’s making sure people around us are taken care of. That’s what he does, and I think that’s why the city of Dallas loves him so much. And I’m sure we’ll keep doing this stuff for the people around the organization and in the city.
FOLLOWILL: I know how important your time was in Spain, growing up as a young man and playing professionally and getting your start there. We’re going through tough times here, they’re going through much together times there. We have a lot of fans watching in Spain. Is there any message that you would have to the folks there in this difficult time?
PORZINGIS: It’s a tough situation, and I don’t understand a lot about what’s going on. But what I can say is it’s important for people to just follow the guidelines. Whatever people that understand this whole situation are telling you to do, that’s what we should all do, and I think that’s going to help us beat this situation or get past this situation as fast as possible. For the people of Spain, stay strong and make sure you do the right thing.
FOLLOWILL: It’s time to start playing basketball again. What do you think you’re most looking forward to?
PORZINGIS: Probably just playing at home, playing in front of our fans again and just having fun out there. I feel like me and Luka were really getting into a good rhythm playing with each other right before this whole thing happened, and hopefully we can get back to that as soon as possible.