Jalen Brunson #11 of the Knicks drives against Tim Hardaway Jr....

Jalen Brunson #11 of the Knicks drives against Tim Hardaway Jr. #11 of the Dallas Mavericks at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Jalen Brunson enjoyed the postgame on-court opportunity to shake hands, offer hugs and voice hellos to his former teammates. The 48 minutes that preceded it? Not so much.

“I’ll be honest, not fun,” Brunson said after the Knicks’ 121-100 loss to the Mavericks on Saturday at the Garden. “I mean, they played great tonight. You’ve got to give them credit. No matter who’s on the other side of the floor, I think my approach always stays the same. Seeing them after the game, shaking their hands, that was pretty cool. I respect them, hope all is well and see them in a month.”

Former Knick Tim Hardaway Jr. said he believes Brunson will flourish in New York and be ready for what the contract and spotlight bring.

“Putting on that jersey, a lot comes with it,” he said. “He’s just got to stay locked in and stay focused. So stay the course. It’s a prideful group of fans, so there will be things that will come off as aggressive. But at the same time, they want you to win. And they want something to talk about as far as talking trash about how good their teams are.

“So just with him, he just has to be able to not only adapt but stay locked in, stay the course, don’t get frustrated. Play with heart. Play with pride. They will reward you if they see you doing that.”

Despite leaving Dallas as a free agent after the team declined to offer him a contract extension when it had the chance, Brunson had rejected any notion that he placed any more emphasis on this game than any other.

Brunson credited Mavericks coach Jason Kidd, in a way, for helping him get the $104 million contract the Knicks gave him.

“I think the relationship me and J-Kidd have is very unique,” Brunson said. “I think I said this a while ago: The first thing he told me when I met him — he says, ‘What do you want to achieve?’ I told him I want to contribute as best I can, yada yada yada. He said, ‘No, we’ve got to get you paid.’ That’s what he said, his first thing. I mean, he did that. He did that. It’s just really cool to see him.”

“He’s one of the best players in this league,” Kidd said. “He’s underrated. He is a winner . . . He’s won in college. He’s going to win on this stage at some point. You look at him averaging 21 points. He’s putting his team in a position to win. He can handle the scrutiny that you guys will give him. He’s just a good young man that plays the game the right way and tries to help his teammates . . . He showed last year that he can run a team. He showed last year that he can play with a superstar. It’s just a matter of getting the right pieces around him to help him win. He’s got a great coach in Thibs.”


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