Thursday, November 7, 2013
BALLER UP-An Interview With Tracy Murray
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
When it comes to Basketball, Tracy Murray has quite the resume. The talented shooting and scoring small forward played with six NBA teams (the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets, Toronto Raptors, Washington Bullets/Wizards and Los Angeles Lakers) and three clubs in Europe, including stints in Greece and France in his career. The potent scoring threat, who graduated from three incredible years at UCLA college, has led the league in 3 Point shooting, recorded a 50 point game to join that exclusive club and won an NBA championship ring . Yet, still this man with Hall Of Fame talent was criminally left off All-Star selections. Still, in retirement Murray is showing that he's quite the all-round professional and versatile threat that he was while on court. Providing color analysis for the UCLA network isn't his only gig. The all-round box-score genius is adding coaching to his career statistics and after stints in the D-League and WNBA is the big NBA league next? Add another and one and you can see that this man has been part of the exciting streetball to court exposure, coaching in the new, exciting 'Ball Up' league that is taking the nation and world by dunking storms, ripping down nets and critical notions of the somewhat lost art of the game. It's clear just like streetball, this coach is making himself known once again. We caught up with our friend Tracy to discuss his NBA career, his coaching one and the finer points of life and basketball.
24/48/82. Hey Tracy, thank you for your time. How are you?
Tracy Murray. No Problem! everything is good. Good to chat with you again.
24/48/82. You've recently been involved with coaching in the 'Ball Up' league how has that been?
T.M. Ball Up is cool. I coach that team every Summer for their US Tour and TV Show tapings.
24/48/82. How important is it for scouts and leagues to keep their ears and eyes to the talents of the streets?
T.M. It's important, but it's even more important for the player to have a resume' (High School and College careers) to be discovered or they won't be taken seriously. That shows pro teams that you're disciplined enough to go to school and play.
24/48/82. How satisfying is it to see the talent level and the opportunities of exposure that 'Ball Up' is offering?
T.M. It's offering the same thing that And1 did in the past, an alternative option to earn a living with no resume'.
24/48/82. I feel like streetball is one of the most expressive forms of the game. What's the most impressive thing you've seen displayed on court?
T.M. I think its the athleticism of guys like Air Up There (6'2), Springs (6'2), and Special Efx (6'5). These guys have made some incredible dunks within the flow of the games that NBA guys can't do.
24/48/82. How much is coaching something you want to get into more in the future?
T.M. I LOVE coaching but its one of those businesses where it has to be the perfect fit with the staff as well as location. I've Coached in the NBA D-League (Bakersfield Jam, 3 years) as well as the WNBA (Tulsa Shock, 1 year) so I have pro coaching experience.
24/48/82. Can you share with us some of your core coaching philosophies and principles?
T.M. Basically, keep it simple and fundamental. The game has changed so much that you can't be too detailed. Basketball IQ is lacking nowadays so pretty much simplify things and stay consistent with it. Occasionally make changes when needed.
24/48/82. You've also recently worked for television and analysis how has that been in keeping you connected on-court?
T.M. Right now being a color analyst on TV or for the most part for me radio, has be GREAT!!! I enjoy breaking down plays and games and feeling the energy of the fans in College or High School Basketball. It's truly a job that I enjoy.
24/48/82. How has the recent trend of ex-players getting into television analysis been good for the game and entertainment level of NBA T.V.?
T.M. I think its good because the guys are very entertaining and have colorful personalities that most fans didn't get to see until the recent flurry of former players hitting the TV as Analyst. It's good for business.
24/48/82. You where in attendance for Mitch Richmond's 'M Rock Life' anti-bullying charity all-star basketball game. How great an experience was that?
T.M. That was GREAT! I was able to support a cause that's a serious problem amongst children nowadays. Especially on social media. This has to stop! There's enough problems in the world today, we shouldn't be putting up with bullies. It's not cool. Plus, Mitch is a former teammate and good friend, if he needs me for a good cause like anti-bullying, then I'm in.
24/48/82. You and Mitch are some of the greatest and most underrated players of the golden 90's era. How special is it to be a part of that?
T.M. It was a GREAT time to play. I played with and against Hall of Famers and Future Hall of Famers and held my own as a player. You were constantly challenged night in and night out.
24/48/82. With your versatile stat-filling and team playing role what do you feel you brought to the game with your play?
T.M. Definitely my outside shooting. I was able to space the floor with my shooting range. I feel I played my role to the best of my ability.
24/48/82. Do you feel your star power was underrated in this game? Or was it a blessing in disguise giving you an overlooked advantage in match-ups?
T.M. I think I flew under the radar for my 12 years. But, that's what kept me motivated. I was in a constant quest for respect. As long as guys were paying attention to me on the floor from the other team, then I was satisfied. That's the respect that I was looking for from my peers.
24/48/82. From stars to role players, who where among your toughest competitions and team-mates?
T.M. My teammate Rod Strickland was the GREATEST guard I played with. His size was a mismatch and he was hard to keep out of the paint. James Worthy, Bernard King, and Dominique Wilkens were at the end of their careers but they were still outstanding. MJ, Scottie and Dennis was the best trio I played against. Shaq was the most dominant!
24/48/82. From the Californian college of UCLA to your NBA days including the L.A. Lakers can you share with us some of your favorite basketball memories?
T.M. Wearing the UCLA uniform and playing 3 wonderful years there with GREAT players and fun experiences of the NCAA tournament was unmatched by anything else. That was the best 3 years of my life. In the NBA, leading the league in 3pt. percentage was cool. The NBA Championship with the Houston Rockets with Olajuwon, Drexler, Horry, Elie, Smith, and Cassell was special. The 50 point night was definitely a special night to remember. My best year as a pro was with the Toronto Raptors in the very first year. I will forever cherish that experience. That was a reintroduction of Tracy Murray. That was the year that I knew I belonged in the league.
24/48/82. What memories do you take from your first, establishing years at Portland and Houston?
T.M. My patience and maturity was being tested at that time. I learned a lot from GREAT players. That experience with those 2 teams prepared me for the rest of my career.
24/48/82. You had some of your best statistical time and career highs for the Toronto Raptors. What was it like playing up north and how good do you think the future of Canadian basketball is from the all-star game to all these new talented players?
T.M. It was a blessing to play in Toronto on two occasions. I'm an Original Raptor and then I came back during the Vince Carter Era and Playoff years. I was happy to see how much the organization have grown. They've had a dip in the last couple of years but with the young talent they have up there now,they should make a good run again. As for Canadian basketball, you can see where our influences on the youngsters in Canada is paying off. Canada is a new hot bed for talent. Corey Joseph, Kris Joseph, Robert Sacre, Andrew Nicholson, Tristen Thompson, Myck Kobongo, Anthony Bennett, Joel Anthony, Samuel Dalembert, Kelly Olynyk, Kevin Pangos and Andrew Wiggins do I need to say more?? You have to credit Steve Nash for a lot of the influences as well.
24/48/82. From a name change in Washington to Denver and Europe you've logged a lot of miles but are more than just an average NBA journeyman. Can you share with us some of your favorite experiences from all of this and what that helps bring to coaching?
T.M. Every stop was an experience. Playing in Europe was like being in college again. We had roommates on the road and I actually got to know my teammates better that way. I learn different strategies over there as well. When you have the experience of seeing different looks basketball wise it brings out the versatility in your coaching ability.
24/48/82. How does it truly feel to be an NBA champion?
T.M. It feels GREAT!!! It's the ultimate goal in a team sport. There are many of great players who worked their behinds of to get one and it never happened for them. It was a blessing. It was the right place at the right time.
24/48/82. How proud of your cousins Lamond Murray and Allan Houston are you?
T.M. I don't know, all of us have had successful NBA careers. I'm sure we're all happy and proud of each others accomplishments.
24/48/82. From LeBron to 'Melo these days it seems to be the Small Forwards, not Point Guards or Centers that dominate these days. How much has your position of the three evolved over these last three defining decades?
T.M. I think my position have always been a position that had tremendous athletes and explosive scorers. I think the 3 spot dominates the ball a lot more than when I played.
24/48/82. What advice would you give to young players and coaches of your type in establishing themselves in this sport?
T.M. Build a resume', work extremely hard, build relationships, and whatever role you are given maximize that role to the fullest.
24/48/82. How great is it now in retirement to have more time for family?
T.M. I made the decision as a player not to get married until I was done playing. You have no time to nurture a relationship or marriage with the stresses of trying to maintain your spot in the league. The lifestyle isn't for a family man. It's difficult. That's why you see so many divorces when guys retire. So, yes I'm very happy to have family time that's not distracted by the NBA.
24/48/82. What's next for Trace? With 'Ball Up' and the UCLA network gig would you one day like to return to your college or even the NBA as a coach?
T.M. If its the right situation, I would explore the possibility of coaching. College or NBA it doesn't matter. Ball Up is just entertainment and I enjoy that for right now as far as coaching. Broadcasting is my main job and I'm really enjoying that right now.
24/48/82. We thank you for your time Tracy and wish you all the best for the future. Good luck Coach.
T.M. Thanks for having me once again, Take care!