BEDTIME STORY – WHERE DOES A SEVEN-FOOT-ONE PERSON GO TO FIND THE PERFECT BED? KRISTAPS PORZINGIS OF THE NEW YORK KNICKS AIMS TO FIND OUT.
Athlete’s Quarterly – September 2015
by MICHAEL DOLAN
New York City may be the city that never sleeps, but Kristaps Porzingis hopes it isn’t true. Of all the daily injustices that someone who is seven-foot-one has to face—low ceilings, tight airline seats, showerheads even with your shoulders—finding a comfortable bed can be almost as difficult as making it to the NBA.
“Ever since I was 16,” Porzingis says, “my feet would hang off the bed, I’ve been playing pro basketball since then, and on the road, it was even worst. In Europe, sometimes the hotel would put two beds together and push another bed up across the foot of the bed, like a T shape. When you are sharing the room with a teammate, it’s not the best situation.”
Given his size, Porzingis grew accustomed to curling up into the most comfortable position he could find to shrink his body and fit on a king size frame. But NBA life can be tough on a twenty year old. The New York Knicks top draft pick has been lifting weights twice a week to put on weight. (He’s gained 11 pounds over the summer to prepare for the NBA.) Added to those weightlifting sessions are the daily scrimmages he has engaged in with Carmelo Anthony and his new Knicks teammates. Whenever he can throughout the day, Porzingis will also put up a few thousands shots to hone his shooting touch. With that kind of workload, sleep is essential. Enter Sandman—the legendary Shifman Mattresses company.
Newark, New Jersey might not be your first guess on where to find a luxurious, custom made mattress, but that is where the Shifman Mattress factory has been located since 1893 when brothers Abraham and Samuel Shifman first tried to create a superior bed. For over a century, in an industry where many of the products are mass produced for quantity, Shifman workers still hand make each mattress to ensure a higher quality. “Every mattress we make is a custom mattress,” Bill Hammer, president of Shifman Mattresses, told us as Porzingis and AQ took a tour of the company factory. “The size of the mattress a person orders may be an industry standard,” Hammer says, “but the level of detail that goes into each mattress is not.”
When ASM Sports agent Dan Rohme met Hammer on a flight recently, they began talking about the possibility of making a custom bed for Porzingis. Hammer invited Rohme and Porzingis to tour the factory and they invited AQ to join along.
Seeing the process first hand will give you an idea how much goes into each mattress. That day, a fresh lumber shipment arrives from Canada to make the bed frame. “It’s the finest lumber money can buy,” Shifman general manager Phil Zucker tells me. From the materials to the hand stitching, every mattress is painstakingly assembled.
Zucker even shows us the tag of one of the mattresses in production. Several initials are on the tag. “Everyone here signs off on their work,” Zucker says. “Each person takes great pride in what they do.”
After touring the factory and resting on a few sample models, Porzingis makes his choice—an athletic king size Exquisite model that measures 80 inches wide by 98 inches long, 18 inches longer than the standard king size. It will take about two weeks for the bed to be handmade and assembled before it reaches Porzingis’ new home. Porzingis says he can’t wait to try it out. “You don’t appreciate what a good night’s sleep means to you as an athlete until you don’t have one.”