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How Jamal Murray's dad helped pull the Nuggets' point guard out of a shooting slump

Harrison Wind Avatar
October 24, 2018

Toward the end of his pregame warmup routine, around an hour or so before the Nuggets tipped off against the Kings, Jamal Murray pulled a familiar figure out of the stands and onto the court.

Dressed in a black hat and a matching black Adidas jacket, Roger Murry, Jamal’s father, stepped out onto the hardwood and watched carefully from a distance as his son hoisted threes from the top of the key, taking mental notes of what he was seeing in regards to Jamal’s form and mechanics. After a few more jumpers, the two chatted near midcourt before Murray wrapped up his warmup and ran back into the Nuggets’ locker room for his final preparations before Tuesday night’s matchup.

Maybe some words of wisdom from his father, someone Murray calls his coach, trainer and friend, was exactly what the Nuggets’ starting point guard needed. Hobbled by two tweaked ankles and suffering from flu-like symptoms throughout the week, Murray shook off a 12-39 shooting slump to begin the season and rebounded for 19 points on 6-10 shooting in Denver’s 126-112 win over Sacramento.

The highlight of Murray’ night came in the third quarter when the 21-year-old hit two threes and scored 11 of Denver’s first 14 points of the half. Murray hit 3-6 from distance Tuesday after an 0-5 performance from beyond the arc earlier this week against Golden State. The Nuggets outscored the Kings 37-26 in the period to extend their lead and put away Sacramento to move to 4-0 on the season.

“To go into the game and get into a rhythm and want the ball every time down the court, it’s a good feeling,” Murray said.

Murray credits his father with instilling the mental strength that he finds within himself to play through injuries. During his rookie season, Murray played through two sports hernias. This year, he’s already battled through ankle injuries that have bothered him since before training camp. Roger also preached the importance of focus throughout Jamal’s upbringing, calling on the lessons he learned from closely studying martial artist Bruce Lee and how the philosopher found the inner strength to overcome any obstacle in front of him. Like it was for Lee, meditation became an important part of Murray’s life and something he does before games.

Roger’s teachings continue to this day. Twenty-four hours before Tuesday’s game, Jamal worked out from 7-11 p.m. in an empty Pepsi Center with Roger by his side, getting up hundreds of shots and going over his form and mechanics.

Roger comes to most of his son’s games, and Jamal always welcomes his coaching. One of the final shots Jamal worked on before Denver’s matchup against Sacramento under Roger’s watchful eye were pull-up jumpers.

It’s a shot he’s taking with more frequency this season, especially from three-point range, a byproduct of a confident third-year player who’s looking to expand his already dynamic offensive game.

“That’s one of my favorite shots, and I’m open a lot of times,” said Murray. “The defense isn’t expecting you to shoot it and they can’t come up that far, especially when you have numbers.”

It’s a big season for Murray and the Nuggets who are 4-0 for the first time since the 2009-10 season. With playoff aspirations and high expectations both locally and nationally, Denver will need Murray to have more shooting performances like he did Tuesday and less 0-9 nights, which was the case Sunday versus the Warriors.

Perhaps pregame conferences with Roger are the secret recipe.

“It’s just good to have him here,” Murray said. “Working with me, working on my shot, working on my game, always in my ear, which is what I like sometimes.

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