Jamal Murray was left speechless and out of breath following the Denver Nuggets’ 119-107 win over the Utah Jazz on Sunday night, which forced a Game 7 in their opening-round playoff series at Walt Disney World.
Yet it wasn’t the game, or the fact that he had put up 50 points yet again this series, that left him bent over and emotional on the court for his interview with TNT.
It was his shoes — and, more importantly, what they represent.
George Floyd and Breonna Taylor on his feet
Murray dropped 50 points while shooting an impressive 9-of-12 from behind the 3-point line in their 12-point win. It marked the second time this series that he’s put up at least 50 points — making him just one of five players in NBA history to do so in a playoff game. He did it with just 24 field goals, too, marking the fewest needed for a 50-point game since 1953.
When asked about it immediately after the game, Murray couldn’t help but look down at his shoes.
The 23-year-old was wearing a custom pair featuring both Breonna Taylor’s and George Floyd’s face on them. Taylor — the Louisville EMT — and Floyd were both killed by police in separate incidents earlier this year, which sparked widespread protests across the country.
“We found a way to win,” Murray said on TNT. “These shoes mean a lot. With all the … the shoes mean a lot.”
He then bent over, clearly getting emotional, before popping up with tears in his eyes.
“I just want to win,” he said. “In life you find things that hold value, things to fight for, and we found something worth fighting for as an NBA, as a collective unit. I use these shoes as a symbol to me to keep fighting all around the world. Like I said, they give me a lot of power to keep fighting.”
NBA players, led first by the Milwaukee Bucks, staged a walkout earlier this week in response to the Jacob Blake shooting. Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot multiple times in the back by Kenosha, Wisconsin, police as he tried to get into his car. He is now partially paralyzed.
“It’s an emotional thing, because it’s not just me. There’s so many other guys, as you can tell,” Murray said. “It’s lives. It’s your life. Imagine losing your life. Imagine a father losing their life while they have kids. Imagine a father, a son, brother getting shot seven times in front of their kids. Imagine that.
“Like I said, least I can do is go out there and play and fight for something. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
The shoes, Murray said, were a perfect representation of what he and everyone else in the league is fighting for — a fight he knows is far from over.
“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 in this world, and that’s what I’m going to keep doing.”
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