Kristaps Porzingis’ Nickname Origins: How Kevin Durant Coined the ‘Unicorn’ Moniker for the Celtics Star Center

The Celtics received a boost in Game 1 of the NBA Finals when star center Kristaps Porzingis returned to the lineup.

Porzingis had been sidelined since Game 4 of the first round after suffering a soleus (calf) strain. He remained patient in his rehab, missing all of the East Semifinals against the Cavaliers and Eastern Conference Finals against the Pacers.

A nine-day layoff before the start of the NBA Finals bought Porzingis more time to get healthy for the big stage. There was speculation as to how healthy he would be when he got back on the floor, but he answered all of those questions during his first stint off the bench.

Porzingis made a loud impact right off the bat, going for 11 points and two blocks in the first quarter. He finished with 20 points, six rebounds and three blocks, looking like the X-factor Boston needed in this series.

When you watch Porzingis play, you might hear the broadcast refer to him by a few different names. Here’s a list of his nicknames and their origin below.

MORE: How the Celtics shut down Luka Doncic’s passing attack in Game 1

What is Kristaps Porzingis nickname?

The Unicorn

Long before the floor-spacing big man was commonplace in the NBA, Porzingis was an anomaly.

Back during his rookie season with the Knicks in 2015-16, All-Star forward Kevin Durant coined Porzingis’ “unicorn” nickname.

“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,” Durant told ESPN. “That’s rare. And block shots—that’s like a unicorn in this league.”

Porzingis revealed on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” that he wasn’t familiar with the term “unicorn” at first.

“At first, I was a little confused. It’s like, ‘What is it? A horse with a ponytail? What does it mean?'” Porzingis told Fallon. “But then they kind of explained it to me. What he tried to say is that I’m a unique player. So, it was nice to hear him say good things about me.”

Tingus Pingus

On rare occasions, you might hear Porzingis referred to as “Tingus Pingus.” This is a more deep-cut nickname for the Latvian big man, and it originally came from a place of disrespect.

Comedian and well-known Knicks fan Michael Rapaport went viral for a video of his NSFW reaction when New York took Porzingis No. 4 overall in the 2015 NBA Draft.

“Who the f— is this? Who the f— is Tingus Pingus? I’ve never heard of ‘Lativia’!” he screamed at his television.

As the years have gone on, it has become a funny way for the internet to reference Porzingis.


This one is self-explanatory. Being the first letter of his first and last name, “KP” is just an easy way to say Porzingis.

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