Jamal Murray tapped into an emotional channel Sunday night that could’ve only been reached under extraordinary circumstances.
After an emotionally exhausting three days inside the Orlando bubble, where NBA players took on forces far bigger than themselves, Murray played the game of his life. After scoring 50 points for the second time this series and staving off elimination for the second time as well, Murray broke down in his postgame TNT interview.
“We found something we’re fighting for as the NBA, as a collective unit…and I use these shoes as a symbol to keep fighting all around the world.”
– Jamal Murray after Denver’s Game 6 win. pic.twitter.com/rkwPn9QuHX
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) August 31, 2020
“These shoes mean a lot,” Murray said, before repeating himself. Murray’s right shoe showed a black-and-white picture of George Floyd, his left one depicting Breonna Taylor.
On Saturday, before his news conference with reporters, Murray placed the shoes on the chair for roughly two minutes as a symbol of what he was playing for moving forward.
“In life you find things that hold value to you and things to fight for and we found something we’re fighting for, as an NBA, as a collective unit,” Murray said with tears welling in his eyes. “And I use these shoes as a symbol to mean keep fighting. All around the world. That’s all I can say. They give me a lot of power to keep fighting. We want to win. I show my emotion, and it comes out.”
Murray and his fellow NBA colleagues spent three days brainstorming and activating ways to initiate change in the fight for racial equality. In just days, the NBA got commitments from owners to facilitate easier access to voting as well as created a social justice coalition that advocates for meaningful police reform.
“Because it’s not just in America, it happens everywhere,” said Murray, who’s Canadian but shared with local media his first-hand experiences with racism before heading to Orlando.
“But these shoes give me life,” Murray said. “Even though these people are gone, they give me life, they help me find strength to keep fighting this world. That’s what I’m gonna keep doing.”
Before Murray could get back to the locker room to celebrate with his teammates, he dropped down on the ramp to collect his thoughts.
Jamal Murray left it all on the floor after dropping 50 points and forcing a Game 7. pic.twitter.com/8l5eYBa8dc
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 31, 2020
“It was all emotions,” Murray said. “Hard to put into words. … Without basketball, I don’t know where I’d be or who I’d be or anything like that. So like I said, just a lot of emotion; more than I can put into words for y’all. But I had to take time to myself, a moment for myself, and just regroup before I go in the locker room.”
Nuggets coach Michael Malone struggled to find the words to describe what he’d just seen from his 23-year-old superstar. To will his team to a Game 7, with another 50-point performance after the week that he and his players had just experienced, was awe-inspiring.
“Well, I would say that everything that came out of Jamal after this game says it all,” Malone said. “We’ve been through the ringer … This is an exhausting game. This has been an exhausting experience, being down here. And Jamal’s mental toughness is, I think — I don’t know many mentally tougher kids than Jamal Murray, what he’s doing right now, on this stage with everything happening around the world. So yeah, he’s emotional, and he should be.”
Proud of you, Jamal Murray @BeMore27 💪🏽👏🏽💪🏽👏🏽
— Steve Nash (@SteveNash) August 31, 2020
respect 🖤 @BeMore27
— Ja Morant (@JaMorant) August 31, 2020