It’s not every day that someone could go to a gym and watch three NBA players suit up.
To be fair, it was at the Nike Pro City, a popular NYC pro-am. Fresh off signing a four-year, $104 million contract, former Dallas Mavericks‘ Jalen Brunson teamed up with his new teammates Julius Randle and Obi Toppin to give the New York fans a glimpse of what to expect at Madison Square Garden this season.
The Nike Pro City Run is a popular summer basketball league that many hoop fans flock out to watch. Held at Hostos Community College in the Bronx, several hundred fans flocked out to watch Brunson and his new teammates suit up for the first time publicly together.
Brunson flashed his silky ball handling skills with a smooth finish at the rim that Mavs fans will surely miss next season.
The three played well offensively, as Toppin finished with 25 points, Brunson with 24, and Randle with 18, but the trio of Knicks lost 110-97 to a team that had no NBA players.
Despite the loss, the Nike Pro City director Bernard Bowen complimented the Knicks players for putting on a good show.
“It’s a playoff atmosphere, New York City bragging rights on the line. Guys want to come out and leave it all on the floor, put on a good show for the city,” Bowen tells the New York Post. “You have a lot of kids [here] who can’t afford the opportunity to go to a Knicks game, so for those guys to come and play in that atmosphere where it’s free for the kids, it’s a blessing.”
Social Media Does Its Thing
Not surprisingly, Twitter had a field day after the loss.
It doesn’t help when you are a marquee franchise in one of the biggest cities in America. Fans and the media will find any reason to dissect every move their sports teams make.
Here are several highlights that were pretty amusing.
Pressure Will Be on Jalen Brunson
After the Mavs were too slow with the extension during the season, Brunson was able to showcase his skillset even more in the playoffs and that helped his market price. It does not help his father was hired by the Knicks on June 2 as an assistant coach.
However, Brunson goes from an area that was relatively friendly and wholesome in Dallas, to a city that is super cutthroat and will admonish players who do not perform up to expectations. Just look at how Randle was treated the last two seasons. The first year was great because Randle was playing at an All-Star level, but once Randle regressed last season, fans quickly turn on him.
Brunson will be hearing from fans from both sides of the spectrum. One night they could be chanting MVP for him, and then another night he could be getting a bunch of comments about how he is overpaid. Mavs fans will for sure be watching how this situation plays out.