During a recent interview, San Antonio Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray opened up about his humble beginnings and the team’s budding young core.
Starting point guard Dejounte Murray is pegged as the leader of the San Antonio Spurs young core. He’s the oldest of the essential players who qualify for that group and has spent the past four seasons embracing the team’s culture both on and off the court. Now that he’s got some time on his hands, the fan-favorite spoke with lauded reporter Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports on his podcast, “Posted Up with Chris Haynes.”
During the conversation, Dejounte opened up about a handful of subjects ranging from his personal life and humble beginnings to the future of the Spurs’ young core. Throughout the conversation, it becomes increasingly clear that the humble, hard-working player that Spurs fans love holds up to his reputation off the court.
But before we get into the basketball side of things, Dejounte shared his perspective on social justice and racial inequality in the U.S.
"We bleed the same."
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) June 24, 2020
America’s racial awakening is nothing new to Dejounte Murray.
They weren’t the first to make comments about the situation at hand, but the San Antonio Spurs organization has made it clear where they stand on the Black Lives Matter movement and the racial injustice against Black people in this country. Between DeMar DeRozan’s leadership role in protests, Lonnie Walker IV cleaning up after protesters, and Gregg Popovich using his platform to educate his community, San Antonio has been active in the fight for racial justice.
Though we haven’t heard much from Dejounte on the matter up to this point, he used his voice during the conversation with Haynes.
Murray has been fed up with the racial injustices in this country for years, noting conversations about the plight of Black people in America with his 107-year-old Aunt from his childhood. He was disgusted by the gruesome murder of Ahmaud Arbury and became even more socially conscious when teenager Trayvon Martin was killed in 2012.
Dejounte even noted some of his personal experiences with police brutality:
“I know crooked cops from where I am from that killed themselves because they were so crooked and taking stuff from us, beating up on us and they got exposed. Now, it’s like you about to go to jail and be on the front lines where all these dudes you used to rob and they killed themselves.”
Former Spurs wing Stephen Jackson isn’t necessarily on great terms with the Spurs or their fanbase, but he’s been an incredible voice for the pressed since his friend, George Floyd, was murdered at the hands of Minneapolis police. Dejounte showed great appreciation for what Jax has been doing to spread awareness and stand up to police brutality.
I’ll leave you with this statement by Murray that eloquently sums up the issue at hand:
“I don’t understand how you can hate somebody with color. We bleed the same.”
Next: A look back at Dejounte's checkered past
For Dejounte Murray, becoming a member of the San Antonio Spurs was a longshot that paid off in the end.
Much of Dejounte’s life was spent in unideal circumstances. During the interview, he was careful to tread lightly and leave certain stones unturned, but he revealed that he was active in the streets and very narrowly dodged the hurdles of a system that was set up against him.
According to Murray’s accounts, he spent time participating in illegal activity as early as 11-years-old. He was born into it, as his mother had been in and out of the penitentiary when he was just four or five years old. From early on, Dejounte accumulated street cred and a record that could’ve put him behind bars for an extended period; effectively ending his NBA dreams.
Then, when he was a freshman at Ranier Beach High School in Seattle, WA, one of the greatest ball-handlers and Sixth Men of all-time, Jamal Crawford, got in his ear and instilled legitimate hoop dreams. Crawford, who attended Ranier Beach himself, saw Dejounte’s potential from early. He pushed Murray away from the streets and toward a focus on his basketball talent. After a stint in Juvenile Hall in his sophomore year of High School, Dejounte shifted his focus away from the streets and toward a career in basketball.
The University of Washington helped him to make up for lost time and gain eligibility to attend the school upon graduation. Though it took lots of hard work, dedication and a major lifestyle change, Dejounte worked his way into the NBA Draft lottery conversation.
According to Dejounte, an unnamed team picking in the lottery committed to drafting him before hearing about the gang activity in his youth. He slipped to the 29th pick, which ended up being a blessing for both him and a Spurs organization that’s fallen in love with his work ethic, dedication and commitment to being a positive presence.
“The Spurs, they said ‘All I see is a young kid who needs guidance, who needs help,” Murray said.
Dejounte made it in spite of circumstances and a system that was against him. Now, he’s a rising star who’s just waiting for his opportunity to shine.
Next: The best is yet to come
Eventually, the San Antonio Spurs will have to unleash Dejounte Murray and the young core. They’ll be ready when the time comes.
Spurs fans have been thinking it and now, Dejounte has said it: The best is yet to come from San Antonio’s young core. The 23-year-old point guard is in his fourth official NBA season, which is his third in actuality (He missed the entire 2018-19 season after tearing his ACL in October 2018). He respects the system that’s produced sustained success leading up to this point, but Dejounte can recognize that his time has yet to come.
“You’re not going to see the best of me if I can only take eight shots,” Murray said. “Come back to me when we can unleash and get that freedom.”
Murray refers to “we” as the Spurs’ young core, a group which he’s naturally become the leading force of over the years in San Antonio. That group includes combo guard Derrick White, who Dejounte speaks very highly of. He made sure to note that we’ve only seen a limited version of the player that White can eventually be.
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Dejounte believes that the Spurs’ young core is special and is destined for something great once they can finally hit that next level. Of the named players, he included the aforementioned Lonnie Walker, White, Keldon Johnson and Bryn Forbes. He paid respect to the veterans and noted that their place is important on the team, but that the younger players are confined to roles that don’t show the full spectrum of what they can be.
This season, Dejounte averaged 9.3 attempts for 10.7 points per game. However, San Antonio had a winning record in games when Dejounte took at least 12 shots from the field. In those games, he averaged 16.6 points on 50.8 percent shooting, which improves on his Per 36 minute average of 15.4 points per game. When the leash gets shorter and Dejounte can be himself, he’s going to prove that he can take his game to the next level.
He doesn’t have any gripe with paying his dues, but Dejounte wants it to be known that he shouldn’t be compared with the players who get free rein from the moment they’re drafted.
When Dejounte and the young core do get their chance to shine, the San Antonio Spurs are going to become a completely different version of what we’ve seen for the past three seasons.