It's only been five years since the draft of 2011, and the breakthrough of Kawhi Leonard onto the consciousness of the San Antonio fan. We didn't know what to make of him at first, and that summer's lockout didn't help us at all. But eventually we were able to get a good hard look at him, and realize who we would be cheering for: a small forward with the wingspan of a center, the hands of Shaq, and the temperament of Tim Duncan. Ditto the media aversion.
Kyle Anderson fell to the Spurs in 2014, even though he was supposed to have been long gone by the 30th pick. Billed as the evolutionary Boris Diaw, we knew where to slot him right away. And he's been playing catch-up ever since. With moderate success, and some reason for optimism.
Then there's Dejounte Murray. Like Kyle, he fell. Like Kawhi, he's long, lean, and loves the gym. But before he plays a minute in Silver and Black, he's already different from both of those predecessors. And all of the rest of them to boot.
See, Murray is represented by Klutch Sports Group, which was founded by Rich Paul, LeBron James' friend and agent. This doesn't just place him alongside the newly re-crowned greatest player in the game, as well as John Wall and Ben Simmons. It also allowed him to join UNINTERRUPTED, the self-styled multimedia network for exclusive sports lifestyle content, or an alternative Players' Tribune -- essentially, a media outlet created by athletes to tell their stories themselves. Which is where things start to get interesting.
So on the one hand we have an organization in the San Antonio Spurs with mottos like family business (which is code for "I won't answer that question because it's none of your business"), and leaders like Duncan and Gregg Popovich whose default mode is circle-the-wagons. On the other hand we have Murray and LeBron James' entire media empire who have a vested interest in making as big a splash as possible. I have no idea how this is going to pan out, but I'm appreciating our front row seat for the proceedings.
And those proceedings have already begun, as UNINTERRUPTED has a camera crew that's been following Murray around since before the draft, providing background on his early life, and chronicling his transition from the semi-private life of a college freshman, to an NBA player. Those videos are being made available, which means that we're getting unprecedented access to see the youngest member of the Spurs behind-the-scenes, and get to know him as he navigates his way from the University of Washington to San Antonio.
I've included the videos below, with a brief description of each -- and they get progressively better.
In the first he talks about growing up in the Seattle area, and the support structure that helped him pursue his dream.
In the second, Murray gets fitted for his draft day suit, and looks forward to shaking the commissioner's hand.
In the third, he visits a friend that nearly died after being attacked.
Dejounte talks about how his family and friends have helped him become who he is, and stay grounded.
It's draft night, and San Antonio selects Murray who dons his Spurs hat and talks about his motivation to grow and improve.
Dejounte talks about his desire to give back, and how he's benefited from the wisdom and help he's received growing up.
Murray visits the University of Washington and hangs out with his former teammates, and talks about how Coach Lorenzo Romar is like a second father to him.
Murray talks about the importance of staying grounded, and being careful in everything he says and does.
While these videos are interesting because of the access they give, they also paint a picture of a young man who is thankful for the opportunity he has. I look forward to seeing him progress in his skills on the court, but even more so in his growth as a man who can handle the pressures of NBA life. I'll continue to share the videos as they're made available, and hope that Murray is able to attain the high goals he's set for himself.