“My favorite arena environment-wise is the Garden — the Madison Square Garden,” Paul said on the “Sloane Knows” podcast. There’s nothing like it. Madison Square Garden is so dope because the energy in there is obviously, you’re in the mecca, but they really appreciate good basketball.”
“So when I say that, I mean if you go play in Utah, I don’t care how good you’re playing, they’re booing you, but in Madison Square Garden, if you play the game the right way and you show up and you hoop, they always appreciate really good basketball.”
The proof is in the pudding as the 12-time All-Star point guard averaged 19.2 points, 9.8 assists and 4.5 rebounds in his 13 career games at Madison Square Garden while shooting a remarkable 52.4% from the field and 56.1% from 3-point distance.
In 2020, Paul contemplated playing for the Knicks after his former agent, Leon Rose, was hired as the team president. But ultimately, Paul chose to get traded to the Phoenix Suns to be close to his family in California. The lack of appeal of playing at the Garden without fans during the COVID-19 pandemic factored into his decision.
“He was saying the Knicks were an option but, you know, if he was going to New York, he wanted the full Knick experience, meaning he wanted the fans, he wanted the essence, he wanted the ambiance of that Madison Square Garden crowd. And going there now, you know, we don’t know if that crowd will ever be back,” Matt Barnes, Paul’s former teammate, said on SiriusXM NBA Radio at that time.
The Knicks finally had a chance to get Paul at a lower price this summer, but with Jalen Brunson firmly entrenched as a rising star, that ship has already sailed.
Eventually, Paul was traded twice this summer, first to the Washington Wizards as part of the Bradley Beal trade. Then he was rerouted to the Warriors in exchange for Jordan Poole and a future pick in a salary dump move for future financial flexibility.
Paul and the Warriors are scheduled to play against the Knicks at his favorite arena on February 29 next year.
Jalen Brunson Benched in Closing Time of USA’s Comeback Win
On Sunday, Brunson was benched in the final 16 minutes of Team USA’s come-from-behind 99-91 victory over Germany.
Team USA coach Steve Kerr alternated Tyrese Haliburton and Austin Reeves as the team’s point guards, which proved right after Brunson struggled against Germany’s size.
Haliburton and Reeves had 16 points each off the bench, combining for 5-of-6 3-pointers that sparked Team USA’s comeback from a 16-point deficit in the second half.
Brunson had eight points on 2-of-6 shooting and three assists in 15 minutes before leaving the game midway through the third quarter and never returning.
Bill Simmons Bats for Tyrese Haliburton over Jalen Brunson
The Ringer’s Bill Simmons pushed for Haliburton over Brunson as Team USA’s closer.
“Team USA’s biggest issue for the actual tournament — accepting that [Tyrese] Haliburton and [Austin] Reaves are [two] of the best guys on the team. They’re gonna have to be out there in any big situation even if feelings get hurt,” Simmons posted on X (formerly Twitter).
Simmons’ comments came on the heels of Brunson’s struggles on both ends of the floor against Germany’s backcourt of Dennis Schröder (16 points, 10 assists) and Andreas Obst (12 points, 2 assists).