Jalen Brunson confirmed what some already knew about his attraction to the Knicks.
“It’s family,” Brunson said Tuesday. “It’s a comfort level to this and it’s something I couldn’t turn a blind eye to.
“That these guys have my interest at heart. I think (Knicks president Leon Rose) probably saw me before my dad did. So it’s just a one big family for me, and I’m super excited.”
Of course, there’s also the four-year contract exceeding $100 million—the generational wealth he accepted from Rose, his father’s former agent, and team owner James Dolan.
Brunson, who has bucked the odds as a second-round pick signing a nine-figure contract, said this is nothing new.
“They said I was too slow, not athletic enough. Too small,” Brunson said. “All the things that don’t measure heart. And that’s what I have.”
Otherwise, there wasn’t much to glean from Brunson’s first public words as a member of the Knicks.
It was a 15-minute introductory press conference with no media present, with only the in-house network and screened questions from fans allowed during the sterilized conversation.
The philosophy of freezing out the media (unless it’s mandated by the NBA) trickles down from Dolan, but it casts the entire organization as terrified and weak. If a front office can’t answer questions about its biggest signing, when should it feel confident enough to swat away whatever media queries frighten the owner?
Rose, for instance, sat down with local reporters at the apex of his tenure, right after the Knicks shocked the NBA by finishing fourth in the East. Then the Knicks bombed in Year 2 and Rose went radio silent. Not one prominent member of the organization has spoken publicly since the season ended.
To be clear, there are significant questions, beyond basketball, that the Knicks are avoiding. Forget about the nosedive last season, assumptions of tampering with Brunson and the Donovan Mitchell trade rumors. They also hired a new assistant coach, Rick Brunson, the father of Jalen, who left his last job with the Timberwolves amid accusations of sexual harassment, three years after he was charged—and acquitted—of unrelated sexual abuse. Was there a due diligence investigation before the hiring? Was Dolan, who once sang “I Should’ve Known” about his former buddy Harvey Weinstein’s misdeeds, satisfied with the answers?
Fair questions—and an opportunity for reassuring answers from the Knicks—but they’ve been avoided. None of that should fall on Jalen Brunson, who came across as polished and likable through the interview, as his reputation precedes.
He also didn’t have to answer one question about Mitchell, about fitting with Julius Randle, about RJ Barrett, about declining to give the Mavericks an opportunity to match the offer. But Brunson did get four questions from fans, which were vetted prior to being read aloud:
· What is your favorite memory of playing at MSG?
· What is your favorite hobby?
· Who was your favorite Knicks player growing up?
· What are you most looking forward to with playing for coach Thibodeau?