A couple months back, I got a group email from a good buddy of mine, Andrejs. He was emailing everyone to organize a huge Latvian get-together at the Sacramento Kings-New York Knicks game. The plan worked, and last Sunday, about 80 Latvians took over two luxury suites and enjoyed the game, excited to see the player that Kevin Durant famously called a “Basketball Unicorn.”
Pre-game we all—including those wearing unicorn heads—met at Stout on 33rd street, right next to Madison Square Garden. Around 5:30 p.m. we all walked over to the main entrance for pre-game warm up check in. One-by-one, all 84 of us entered in the hopes of getting an early peak at to see our God, Kristaps Porzingis.
Sitting only 10 rows back from courtside during pre-game warm-up, I was hoping to catch a glimpse or a peace sign from the young unicorn. Waiting, and waiting… We finally spotted Janis, KP’s brother. He was standing on the opposite side of the court. Well, the time was right, so I got up, and left my seat to greet him.
The walk must have been the length of the court. Along my adventure, I snapped photos of Allan Houston and Rajon Rondo, right before I introduced myself to Janis. I greeted him in Latvian, and told him, “My name is Aleksis, I am from the Bronx, and there are 83 other Latvians waiting to see your bral (brother)!” And then I turned around and waved across the court toward our warm-up section.
Then Janis waved, and then all the Latvians waved back. “That will always be a memorable moment for me,” Janis told me.
Personally, I think he was shocked when I spoke Latvian to him. I was hoping he’d be able to bring his brother out, but I was wrong. So what? Everyone was still happy to salute Janis with a Latvian wave. Later on I was told that KP gets his pre-game warmup done before fans are even in the building.
Upstairs was so fresh, and so clean. The New York Knicks provided us with shirts and hats. They draped giveaways on almost every single chair. I was able to grab two shirts; I figured one of my artists would appreciate it. Yes! We partied in both suites with unicorns in sections 307 and 308. The atmosphere was super chill, and always exciting to see so many Latvians unite.
Here’s a little breakdown of KP’s importance, in the words of my man Alvis Brisgis:
“Kevin Durant thinks this Latvian kid’s future is very bright. He is a shining beacon of light for all Latvians during troubled times. He along with other ‘Latvian exports’ such as Martins Dukurs (luge), Maris Strombergs (BMX), Andris Nelsons (conductor of Boston Symphony Orchestra) and actress Rashida Jones (her mother is of Latvian descent), as well as successful Latvian startups like Airdog and Draugiem Group, are a big source of national pride. Latvians always identify with the underdog. And sometimes the underdogs are really baby unicorns.”
I couldn’t have said it better. We wished we got to meet KP and the Knicks could have gotten a win, but at least we got to converse with his brother and get a wave to the LV squad!