NEW YORK — There was no ceremonious tribute video or standing ovation for the former face of the New York Knicks franchise on Thursday night.
Kristaps Porzingis was booed while he went through warm-ups. Fans interrupted the national anthem and let out screams of “Go back to back to Latvia” and “Traitor.”
Porzingis was forcibly booed during the introduction of the Dallas Mavericks’ starting lineup. He was booed every time he touched the ball and every time he took a shot. Sometimes, Porzingis was booed without any apparent reason.
This was the welcome Porzingis, 24, had expected in his first game back at Madison Square Garden since he was traded from New York to Dallas in February. On Wednesday, Porzingis said that if social media were any indication, he expected a negative response.
Less than two minutes into Thursday night’s game, chants of “KP sucks” erupted. The arena broke out in the chant again as the New York City dancers ran to center court during the first timeout.
Tribute videos have become a popular way for teams to honor their former players, and it was noticeable that one didn’t play for Porzingis. The San Antonio Spurs projected one on the big screen for Kawhi Leonard’s return. Dwyane Wade received one when he played for the Chicago Bulls and first visited the Miami Heat. The Hawks even gave Mike Scott a tribute video.
Porzingis spent four seasons with the Knicks and blossomed into an All-Star with the franchise.
A few fans showed up to the game donning Porzingis No. 6 New York jerseys.