Kristaps Porzingis is an enigma. In the words of Kevin Durant, he is a "unicorn." The seven-foot-three 21-year-old Latvian can shoot from the outside or post-up. He can guard the perimeter or protect the post. He can force steals and he can block shots.

He blocks a lot of shots. Porzingis' 134 blocks in 2015-16 were eighth-most in the NBA, second amongst rookies to Karl-Anthony Towns.

In his second season, Porzingis is getting more out of those blocks and paying it forward. On Nov. 19, Porzingis introduced his first charitable initiative at the Abyssianian Baptist Church in Harlem. Flanked by 100 inner city youths, Porzingis announced that for every block he has the remainder of the season (starting with the Knicks' home game versus the Hawks on Nov. 20), he will donate $500 to the Ben Jobe and Educational and Scholarship Fund. The money will be reserved to creating free tutoring opportunities for third to eighth graders and free SAT Prep courses for high schoolers.

"I love to block shots," Porzingis told the kids. "It's a part of the game that requires so much hard work. And hard work, for all of you, in the classroom, and at the gym, is the key to success."

Porzingis even blocked some shots launched by the kids in Harlem, who were present courtesy of RENS, a local not-for-profit youth basketball program.


If Porzingis had this initiative in place in 2015-16, he would have donated $67,000 to the fund. Considering Porzingis is only becoming a better player, and his minutes per game are up over four minutes this season, the donation totals should pile up.

But he does not want the money to stop there.

"I'm hoping that individuals and companies match my $500 donation for each blocked shot I make. Wouldn't that be great?" he asks.

Porzingis' rookie salary pays him $4,317,720 in 2016-17, but he signed a seven-year deal with Adidas on October that will pay him between $3 and $6 million, annually. The deal is the richest endorsement contract for a European player in professional basketball history. With an increased personal cash flow, Porzingis can be expected to partake in more charitable endeavors coming up.

For this first act of philanthropy, Porzingis is focusing on the inner city.

"Why is basketball important?" Porzingis says. "I think that's a way to get out of the life you have. Maybe you have some problems or whatever. I remember, me too, as a young kid, that hour or hour and a half that I had playing with my friends, that was the best time of my day. And you just forget about all your problems and forget about everything and you just have fun out there. And I think that's a way to escape their normal lives."

Oh, by the way, Porzingis is also excelling on the court this season. As of Nov. 26, Porzingis was averaging 21.0 points (23rd in the NBA), 7.3 rebounds (39th) and 1.07 blocks (35th). In just his second year, Porzingis is starting to make a case for his first All-Star Game bid.

UPDATE (April 22, 2017): Porzingis finished the 2016-17 with 129 blocks. With the added contributions of fellow donors, Porzingis delivered a check of $135,450 to the Ben Jobe Education and Scholarship Fund at the end of the Knicks' season.


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