Team USA’s Jalen Brunson surprised to know dad Rick played in PBA as import
Team USA captain Jalen Brunson appeared to be surprised to know that his dad had a bit of history playing in the Philippines, even for a brief period.
“I was barely two years old,” the New York Knicks guard said after the Inquirer asked in Thursday’s pre-introductory press conference ahead of the Fiba World Cup opener of the time Rick Brunson suited up for one game with Ginebra in the 1998 PBA Governors’ Cup.
The elder Brunson along with former NBA player Kenny Payne were tapped by Ginebra in a bid to salvage its campaign in the season-ending third conference against Shell, but lost the final game of the eliminations to miss out on a semifinals berth.
It also turned out to be the final game of playing coach Robert Jaworski, who would later leave the team after a dispute with the new management of San Miguel Corporation.
His one-game appearance happened in between his lone NBA season with the Portland Trail Blazers and his move to the Knicks before the 1999 season, which saw the underdog eighth seed from the East reaching the Finals before losing to Tim Duncan, David Robinson and the San Antonio Spurs.
He is currently part of Tom Thibodeau’s coaching staff with the Knicks, where the younger Brunson had just finished an impressive first season after coming over from the Dallas Mavericks as a free agent.
And to be in Manila for the international basketball’s biggest stage is something that now means more for the 26-year-old lefty.
“That’s crazy,” Brunson continued. “Basketball has opened a lot of places for me and my family. So to know that dad was here, it’s special to know that we can experience [something to bond] together, and we had a lot of moments like that.
“So it’s just something that we’ll definitely talk about in a matter of time,” he added.
Brunson and the Americans are aiming to reclaim the World Cup after its bid for a three-peat was thwarted in 2019 with a seventh-place finish in China.
The United States opens its campaign on Saturday against New Zealand at Mall of Asia Arena.