Prior to a game against the Knicks back in January 2016, Kevin Durant paid Kristaps Porzingis the ultimate compliment by referring to him as a "unicorn." He told reporters that Porzingis possessed a unique set of skills that was unlike anything he had ever seen before.
"He can shoot, he can make the right plays, he can defend, he’s a 7-footer that can shoot all the way out to the 3-point line," KD said. "That’s rare. And block shots—that’s like a unicorn in this league."
Durant didn’t necessarily mean to do it, but by comparing Porzingis to a unicorn, he also inadvertently christened him with a nickname. It’s a nickname KD was quick to take credit for prior to another game against the Knicks last season.
Porzingis has embraced the nickname this season. His latest Adidas sneakers even feature a picture of a unicorn on the bottom of them.
But during an interview with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show on Thursday night, Porzingis admitted he was confused when KD first started calling him a unicorn. Even though Durant meant it as a compliment, it got lost in translation at first.
"I was a little confused," the Latvian-born NBA star said. "What is it? A horse with a pony tail? What does it mean? They explained it to me. What he tried to say was I was a unique player. It was nice to hear [KD] say nice things about me."
Porzingis also revealed he has given himself another nickname: "Lizard," because of how quickly he heals. "They call me The Lizard because I recover so quickly from things. Hopefully The Lizard will be ready for Sunday."
Porzingis is dealing with an ankle injury at the moment, so for now, Knicks fans will accept "Lizard." But that nickname has to go once he’s done healing up. Outside of the fact that it’s not that cool—at all—it’s also not entirely accurate. As Deadspin pointed out on Friday morning, lizards can re-grow tails, but they aren’t really known for healing as quickly as some people think. So Porzingis should definitely stick with Unicorn and let the whole Lizard thing go.