The Atlanta Hawks are coming off a key victory over the Golden State Warriors and looking to secure another on the road against the San Antonio Spurs.
But first, Dejounte Murray had to clear the air.
“People don’t realize, we’re human at the end of the day,” Murray told Carolina Teague of ESPN 97.5 ahead of Sunday’s tilt. “People try to make us athletes…some superhuman that got money and fame and they can only do certain things. They try to limit you to what you can do, what you can say. And, as far as me speaking truths about my experience, that’s what it was, what I came out and said about my experience. And even stuff like that, those is just emotions. People get mad, whatever. But, at the end of the day, this is a place that gave me the opportunity that nobody else did at that time. So, at the end of the day, I wish them the best. I want the best for them. But I still won’t change or take back from my experience of what I had to go through.”
Murray began the exchange laughing off the directness of the question – his first of the session – and reiterated he held no ill-will for the organization.
All of this stems from disparaging remarks Murray made on Instagram in June of last year.
“The Way That System Set Up You Gone Be Losing For The Next 15 Yrs,” Murray wrote in a since-delete reply to a Spurs fan who derided the one-time All-Star’s departure under a post thanking the city of San Antonio and the Spurs organization following his trade to Atlanta. “Problem Bigger Than Basketball.”
A tweet sent in early October did little to quell thoughts he was not a fan of his Spurs tenure.
Another fan asked Murray at the time on the Instagram post if that was truly how he felt about the fans and the organization that had drafted him 29th overall in 2016 and with whom he spent the first six years of his career. He did not absolve the Spurs then but he did credit them during his introductory Hawks presser.
“You have no clue how deeply I love the fans and will do whatever for the real fans,” he said. “Me saying what I said had nothing to do with the fans! All that inside s*** fake though! (For real, for real).”
It’s been a bit of a mixed bag for Murray with the Hawks. He got off to a fine start to the season and averaged 20.7 points on 54.4% true shooting with 6.1 assists, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game before the All-Star break.
Since then, however, he is still averaging over 19.0 points but is doing so on 51.6% true shooting while chipping in 5.6 assits, 5.0 boards, and an identical 1.5 steals.
It is just a slight downturn in his counting stats but a stark drop in efficiency as he’s just 1-for-9 from three over the last three games and has failed to surpass the 20-point mark in any of the last five games.
Was Atlanta Hawks star Dejounte Murray right about the San Antonio Spurs?
The Spurs are notably tied for the NBA’s second-worst record but are one of the teams intentionally venturing into the depths of the standings in hopes of landing 7-foot-3 French national Victor Wembanyama. They also still have one of the game’s most revered figures in head coach Gregg Popovich.
Popovich already having a 29-year NBA career spanning four decades leaves some questions about what comes next for the organization that won all five of its titles under him.
But if he is willing to stick through this season, it is unclear when exactly he plans to step down.
The Spurs will finish the 2022-23 season with a losing record for the fourth year in a row after none since Popovich’s first season as head coach in 1997-98.
They reached the postseason 21 straight years.
As long as he’s at the helm, it’s hard to envision their run of poor finished extending too much further into the future let alone hitting Murray’s pseudo-prediction of a decade-plus even if there are questions about life after Popovich rides off into the sunset.