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‘He’s been a big hater’: Knicks’ Josh Hart doesn’t like Indiana… except Long’s donuts

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INDIANAPOLIS — Josh Hart has been forced to spend close to 72 hours in Indianapolis and hasn’t found anything more to like about it.

Though the Knicks ironman wing acknowledges he really hasn’t tried.

“I didn’t venture out of the hotel too much,” Hart said prior to Game 4 of the Knicks’ Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Pacers while holding out hope that the Knicks won’t have to come back for a Game 6. In fairness, Hart has had reason to try to sit in the hotel and rest, averaging 46.4 minutes per game in the playoffs as well as 17.1 points and 13.3 rebounds.

Hart has been public about not being the city’s or state’s biggest fan, saying on his “Roommates Show” podcast with teammate Jalen Brunson in February that he had not even considered going to Indianapolis for All-Star weekend.

Pacers news: Knicks guard Josh Hart is not a fan of the Hoosier state: ‘I hate going to Indiana, bro.’

“If I don’t have to play the Indiana Pacers, I’m not stepping foot in that state,” Hart said on the show. “I don’t want to be in Indiana for any All-Star break, for anything. I am not an Indiana guy.”

Hart clarified that Indianapolis is not necessarily his least favorite road trip in the NBA. It’s just not one that particularly excites him.

“There’s just nothing, really, in Indy at all,” Hart said. “I feel the same way about other places. There’s nothing in particular with Indy, there’s just nothing to do. There’s nothing for me.”

Hart was born in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Silver Spring, Md., he played his high school basketball at Sidwell Friends in D.C., and then at Villanova in the suburbs of Philadelphia. He’s played for the Lakers, Pelicans, Trailblazers and Knicks — and indeed Los Angeles, New Orleans, Portland and New York are all generally considered more happening cities than Indianapolis.

But people have tried to make a case for Indy to Hart, in particular Pacers All-Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton. Hart and Haliburton became close friends while they played for Team USA last summer in the FIBA World Cup. Haliburton was openly recruiting potential teammates at the time, and Hart was coming close to the end of his contract so he was hoping there was a chance he could make him join the Pacers.

“I pitched him on everything,” Haliburton said. “I was on my recruiting trip. He just looked at me and said, ‘There is no chance I would ever go there.’ I tried everything. Seasons change. Lower tax than New York. Just everything I could. None of it worked.”

Said Hart: “He wasn’t a good salesman. He was just saying it’s a nice place. You can get good land. Cost of living is very reasonable compared to New York. Those were the main things.”

And they, of course, weren’t nearly enough. On Aug. 17 while Team USA was in the midst of showcase play prior to the start of the World Cup, Hart signed a four-year, $81 million extension with the Knicks.

Hart is still willing to give food spots a chance. He said he’s a particularly big fan of the donuts at Long’s Bakery. He said one of the athletic trainers with the Trailblazers is from Indiana and recommended those and he went while on a road trip with them.

“Yeah those are fire,” Hart said. “But I didn’t go there this trip because I didn’t know if I’d be pleasantly welcomed there.”

Hart said he was also considering going to Yaso’s Jamaican Grill in Fountain Square but didn’t go there for the same reason.

Haliburton said he wants to show Hart a good time when the Knicks visit on a regular season road trip, just not for the playoffs. When that happens, he’ll be taking him to Savor in Carmel, he said, but said he doesn’t expect to change Hart’s mind on Indy.

“He’s been a big hater,” Haliburton said. “I’ve given up. He re-signed in New York, he enjoys himself there. I’ve given up.”

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