Jalen Brunson and His Dad Make the New York Knicks a Family Affair

Rick Brunson, Jalen’s dad, is an assistant coach for the Knicks… and he’s not above heckling his son!


Apr. 29 2024, Published 3:05 p.m. ET

Jalen Brunson talks to dad Rick Brunson at the New York Knicks' game against the San Antonio Spurs at Frost Bank Center on March 29, 2024, in San Antonio, Texas
Source: Getty Images

Jalen Brunson’s parents must be proud of the New York Knicks guard after he scored 47 points against the Philadelphia 76ers on April 28, 2024, setting a franchise playoff scoring record and helping the Knicks rise to 3–1 over the 76ers in this first-round series.

At least, Jalen’s dad must be prouder of him now than he was a couple months back, when Jalen washed out of the Three-Point Contest during the NBA All-Star weekend…

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On his podcast, The Roommates Show, Jalen recalled hearing someone heckling him from the stands during that contest. “I heard some dude behind the bench, some bald guy sitting behind the bench, I heard, ‘Yo, you effing bum,’” he said, per Sports Illustrated. “Who said that? My dad.”

Read on for more details about Jalen’s parents, both of whom have NBAconnections.

Jalen Brunson’s parents are Rick and Sandra Brunson.

Jalen is one of two children of Rick and Sandra Brunson. Rick is a former basketball player whose nine-season NBA career included stints with the Knicks, the Portland Trail Blazers, the Boston Celtics, the Chicago Bulls, the Toronto Raptors, the Los Angeles Clippers, the Seattle SuperSonics, and the Houston Rockets. He eventually segued into coaching, serving as an assistant coach on multiple NBA teams.

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Rick Brunson attends the NBA game between the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers on Dec. 18, 2023, at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, Calif.
Source: Getty Images

According to a Sports Illustrated profile, Rick fell in love with Sandra, then named Sandra Davis, during his time playing basketball for Temple University. Sandra also attended Temple and played volleyball for the school. After college, she became a paralegal, and she and Rick welcomed Jalen in 1996. Their daughter, Erica, arrived in 2001, per Rick’s NBA.com bio.

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Sandra has another connection to basketball: At Temple, her roommate and volleyball teammate was Sharia Washington, sister of late Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, as Jalen told Nice Kicks in 2023.

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Rick Brunson joined the Knicks in June 2022, and Jalen followed suit weeks later.

In June 2022, Rick became an assistant coach for the Knicks, reconnecting with head coach Tom Thibodeau, under whom he worked in Chicago and Minnesota as well, according to SNY. But the two men went back even further than that: They met in Salem, Mass., when Thibodeau was coaching at Salem State and Brunson was playing ball for Salem High School.

The job also reconnected Rick with Knicks president Leon Rose, who was previously Rick’s agent during Rose’s CAA tenure.

Later that month, ESPN passed along word from Jalen’s agents that the younger Brunson had agreed to a four-year, $104 million deal with the Knicks. Until that move, Jalen had been playing for the Dallas Mavericks, who scooped him up in the 2018 NBA draft.

Jalen’s performance of late, especially in the 2024 playoffs, has amazed basketball fans, including some famous faces.

“Jalen Brunson is not messing around,” actor Ben Stiller wrote on X on Sunday.

“Hang that Brunson performance in the freaking Louvre,” wrote actor Jerry Ferrara.

And ESPN analyst Dick Vitale wrote, “Jalen Brunson is all world — will go down as one of the greatest guards ever to wear a Knicks uniform.”

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