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What Drew Jalen Brunson to 'Appealing' Knicks Opportunity?

Brunson addressed his fateful decision to join the New York Knicks and the idea that some view him as a "savior" of the franchise.

Jalen Brunson had 104 million reasons not to turn down the New York Knicks' offer of employment. But, as he revealed on Monday, he had two more matters of personal business.

A sense of home is what most drew Brunson to blue-and-orange, as the New Jersey native and Villanova University alum is back on the east coast for at least the next four years. Brunson spent the prior four with the Dallas Mavericks after Mark Cuban's group chose him in the early stages of the 2018 draft's second round. 

"The opportunity to come back east in a familiar area, somewhat close, I'm just really excited for the opportunity with these guys," Brunson said in video from SNY during the Knicks' "Content Day" proceedings. "I think we can do something special. That was very appealing to me, to play with these guys."

Despite a lost 37-win campaign last season, serving as a disappointing follow-up to a fourth-place finish at the end of the 2020-21 season, the Knicks boast a sizable young core headlined by RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson, each of whom likewise earned new deals to stick around (while dodging trade rumors for All-Star veterans). 

As for Brunson's sense of home, MSG has been a base in more ways than one: the opportunity in New York will allow Brunson to play for his father and new Knicks assistant coach Rick, who previously partook in the Garden's hardwood affairs during the Knicks' run to the 1999 NBA Finals. Brunson himself has plenty of experience winning at MSG thanks to his endeavors with victorious Villanova, who regularly made deep runs in the annual Big East Men's Basketball Tournament. He appeared in two championship finals, winning the latter in 2018. 

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Despite a strong resume, one where he might've saved the best for last (coming up big in Dallas' surprise run to the most recent Western Conference Finals), Brunson does not see himself as the "savior" of the Knicks franchise that has meandered its way through most of the new century. 

"Most importantly, I just want to be myself," Brunson said. "I think I said this a while ago, somehow, someway: "(I'm) not a savior in any way, shape, or form. I just want to be able to contribute to the team and try to help this team win games. I like the group, can't wait to build more chemistry with these guys, can't wait to see what we can really unlock and unleash." 

Brunson's unofficial MSG debut lands on Oct. 4, when the Knicks battle the Detroit Pistons in a preseason match. 


Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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