Former UK guard Murray speechless after Denver Nuggets win first NBA title

Published 3:10 pm Thursday, June 15, 2023

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Jamal Murray was speechless after Denver won its first NBA title Monday night.

The former Kentucky guard scored 14 points in the Nuggets’ 94-89 win over Miami to clinch the series for Denver’s first league championship. The final moments were all “hard to put into words.”

“I couldn’t really hold it in — it was just a surreal moment,” he said. “Everything was hitting. Everything was hitting at once, from the journey, to the celebration with the guys, to enjoying the moment, to looking back on the rehab, to looking back at myself as a kid, as the other viewer, looking from the crowd in or from the camera lens in, and now looking back at them.”

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For Murray, winning the title has been a lifelong journey. Murray overcame an ACL tear in 2021 and didn’t play during the 2021-22 season but came back this year to help Denver make history.

“It was just something I’ve been working for my whole life,” he said. I think Mike said it, Porter. Every real hooper wants to be on this stage and play in the game and be in this moment. To see it full circle, going from my rehab, not being able to walk, go up the stairs, not just for a month or two. It was for a long time. A lot of different things going through my head. A lot of tears. A lot of blood, sweat and tears, and real ones.

“Like I said, just to see it full circle and have total belief in myself, have the team have total belief in me, people back home have total belief in me, that’s all I could ever ask for, and just to see it like this is amazing.”

Murray struggled in the first half, but settled down in the final two quarters.

“That adrenaline kicks in, and you want to do something so bad,” he said of his first-half struggles. “That’s why I was ready to go at halftime, calm down and reset myself and do whatever the team needs me to do to get the win.”

Murray was happy to see Denver succeed after failing to reach the finals despite being the No, 2 seed the past two seasons.

“We have the best homecourt for a reason,” he said. “I just felt like all season long, even the past couple seasons we were hurt. They were just there for us. When we didn’t have the energy, they brought us energy. They gave me energy. They gave me energy to come out and do an arrow or make a couple shots or show a little bit more emotion than normal. They would really help me going. That’s why everybody loves to play at home. I can’t shout out these fans enough. I’m so happy for the city of Denver, Kroenkes. We really, really earned this one.”

Through his struggles, Murray had his doubts but he overcame them when it mattered the most.

“Somebody asked me about butterflies,” he said. “That’s what makes you alive. That’s what makes you care. When you doubt yourself, that’s what makes you try to find a way to turn it around. In whatever sport, in whatever injury, in whatever career you’re in, when you go through adversity, it’s how you envision and visualize yourself at the end of it.”