Tragically, the allegations surrounding Kevin Porter Jr. don’t come as a shock. The real question here is why assistance didn’t arrive sooner?
In light of the recent allegations against Houston Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr., there’s no longer a debate about whether he should return to the NBA – he clearly should not. This stern stance follows his arrest in New York City on charges of brutally assaulting his girlfriend. During his arraignment, prosecutors unveiled shocking details, revealing that the alleged attack left Kysre Gondrezick, a free-agent WNBA player, with a fractured vertebra and a cut over her right eye. Prior to this, a police spokesperson informed CNN that Porter Jr. had “assaulted her, struck her multiple times, and choked her.”
Unless these horrendous allegations are somehow convincingly disproven, there’s simply no path for Porter Jr. back onto an NBA court. Instead, the real question at hand is how, after numerous glaring red flags and warnings, the Houston Rockets allowed him access to an NBA locker room once again. And why, after this latest shocking incident, would anyone even entertain the notion of giving him another chance?
Throughout his career, Porter Jr. has shown unwavering promise on the basketball court, but off the court, trouble has been a constant companion.
During his college years, he faced suspension at USC due to “conduct issues.” In 2020, he was involved in a one-car accident and faced charges related to firearm possession in a vehicle, failure to control a motor vehicle, and marijuana possession. Although these charges were eventually dropped, concerns about his behavior persisted.
Porter was traded out of Cleveland just one season after the Cavaliers drafted him in the first round. The reason was not his talent, as he undoubtedly possesses considerable skill, but rather his recurring character issues.
During the 2020-21 season, Porter Jr. lost his temper in the Cavaliers’ locker room, resulting in an outburst that included shouting and hurling objects when a trade led to the relocation of his locker. This incident escalated to a confrontation with Cavaliers GM Koby Altman, and shortly thereafter, Porter Jr. was traded to the Rockets, where, as it often does, trouble continued to follow him.
In the 2021-22 season, he faced a brief suspension following a reported altercation with then-Rockets head coach Stephen Silas – another unsettling episode within the locker room. In April 2021, the NBA imposed a $50,000 fine on him for violating the league’s health and safety rules by visiting a Miami strip club.
Now, the most disturbing incident in a pattern that has come to define his NBA career: an arrest for allegedly assaulting and causing severe injuries to his girlfriend. Documents related to the case allege that Porter Jr. repeatedly punched her in the face and strangled her.
The gravity of these allegations alone should exclude him from the league. However, if that isn’t compelling enough – a sad reality in both sports and other facets of life – teams must also consider their own self-interest, which should prevent any consideration of giving him yet another chance.
Bill Parcells once shared the wisdom: “People tell you who they are. Listen.”
Kevin Porter Jr. has made it abundantly clear who he is for an extended period, and this latest incident loudly reaffirms it: He is a troubled young man spiraling out of control, endangering himself and those around him. He is unworthy of a place in the NBA, and his considerable talent, no matter how substantial, should not grant him repeated opportunities in the league.
The Rockets should have exercised better judgment when offering him a four-year, $82.5 million extension last October, complete with safeguards to mitigate such scenarios. Only the first year of the contract was guaranteed, allowing them to release him before the season’s start, owing just $3 million beyond the current season. This structure clearly anticipated the possibility of off-court issues becoming insurmountable, and tragically, Porter has validated those concerns.
Less than a year after signing that deal, he now faces charges of felony assault and strangulation. The Rockets’ response? “We are in the process of gathering information surrounding the matter involving Kevin Porter Jr. We have no further comment at this time.”
This response falls woefully short. There was already ample information available about Kevin Porter Jr. before the alleged assault on his girlfriend, more than enough to recognize the risks associated with his presence. Forget the question of whether he should play again in the NBA; the answer is a resounding no. That is abundantly clear.
Ideally, decision-makers in the league will go beyond this and demonstrate the same wisdom, decency, and common sense as Altman did by understanding that some talent is not worth the persistent trouble it brings. Sometimes, you simply have to sever ties.
People reveal their true selves, even the talented ones. It is high time that those in the NBA, especially those resembling the Rockets’ front office, start heeding these revelations and take appropriate action before the glaring and appalling issues force their hand.