It was just a summer game, but for Knicks stars to lose in New York against non-NBA players became a big deal to fans and the basketball world.
Such is the enormous pressure of playing in a basketball hotbed and one of the biggest markets in the NBA where every move is being intently scrutinized and every misstep is getting magnified.
Brunson learned it the hard way after a pro city team that he, Julius Randle and Obi Toppin took over was at the receiving end of a 110-97 loss at the Hostos Community College facility dubbed as “The Swamp” in The Bronx earlier this week.
Brunson, who recently signed a four-year, $104 million contract to become the Knicks’ new point guard, took the loss as it is and a springboard for the training camp.
“We kind of knew it [that we’re never gonna hear the end of this loss] walking out of it, but at the same time, we [went] there to just grab some five on five [game],” Brunson said on Bart and Hahn. “We all go separate ways to get work on [our game] individually and trying to come back better and have a better regular season. Be the best players we can be in this team so when we get opportunity to play a five on five especially with teammates, you kind of jumped at it.”
While Brunson’s first five-on-five play with his new teammates, Randle and Toppin, ended in a loss, it showed promising signs filled with highlight reels of give-and-go and no-look passes — a great start to building some chemistry heading into the training camp.
Brunson finished with 24 points behind Toppin’s 25 while Randle came up with 18 and some heated moments against Jordan Washington, former MAAC championship MVP at Iona, in the second half.
But their efforts were not enough as they lost to a more cohesive team that had former NCAA Division I players and professional players overseas and played with chips on their shoulders.
“The guys that played, I mean they’re no scrubs. They’re pros. They can play,” Brunson added. “It is what it is. I mean, I’m not too worried about it. Those guys played really well and I have to give them props.”
Former University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panther Jordan Aaron dropped 40 points.
Washington added 39 in a testy battle against Randle.
Except for the loss, Brunson got what he came for.
“I came there. I got a sweat. I worked on my game and I got a feel of what the NYC energy is all about,” Brunson said.
Welcome to New York, Jalen!
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