Jamal Murray’s Game Plan for Making It to the Top

We’ll never tire of admiring a slashing crossover or beautiful jumper, but on a broader level, one of the most enjoyable things to witness as a fan is the evolution of an athlete. Reality doesn’t always match expectations at first, so when a player matures and comes into their own, it’s a validation of the importance of dedication and discipline.

Jamal Murray is having that moment. In just two seasons, the Canadian-born Denver point guard has showed that the hype surrounding his seventh-overall draft selection in 2016 was well-placed, realizing a significant statistical leap in key categories between his freshman and sophomore campaigns. While it’s definitely due in no small part to his acrobatic athleticism—few pirouette and leave defenders in the dust like Murray—his willingness to live, breathe, and embody the sport he loves has certainly paid dividends. “It wasn’t just about getting to the league. The work’s not even done,” Murray says. “It was about being the best player in the world. That’s the end goal.”

How Murray gets closer to that aim is definitely a story worth watching. From the importance of perseverance to the value of introspection and more, here are five takeaways we learned from the ascendant upstart as he readies for his third season.  


1. Give Your Dream Job the Devotion It Deserves

“I treat my basketball as a sacred place, where I’m not going to give less effort any day. It’s simple stuff, like only wearing my basketball shoes in the gym. When I’m at home, I don’t wear my basketball shoes around. I put them in my backpack and treat them like basketball shoes. I kind of have a system, a way of thinking about how important the game is to me. Every time I step onto the court, I change my mentality to ‘I got to go to work now.’”



2. Trust In Your Abilities to Beat the Odds

“There was never a doubt I’d go pro. I was a six year old playing with 12 year olds and beating them easily. I’ve always had that confidence. It was just where I come from, and how small of a town we are, and not being in the States. All the different factors that I had to overcome—going to different events, having to prove myself over and over and over. That’s why I think of my game as work.”


3. Do Your Homework to Turn Setbacks Into Opportunities

“After bad games, you have to sit on the long plane ride home and watch films with coaches. It sucks. That’s the worst part: looking at your mistakes, what you could have done better, what else was open, because you don’t want to make those same mistakes again. People don’t watch bad games because they’re afraid of making the same mistakes—but if you don’t learn from it, then they’re just going to keep happening. It all comes down to owning up to your mistakes and learning from them.


4. Find a Routine That Works for You

“Before games, I’m just getting mentally prepared. I try to keep it loose, talk to my teammates, focus on what I have to do. It’s really different from what people think about it. I’m going in the locker room, changing, I’m going to eat, getting treatment, hot tubbing, massage, or shooting, headphones on. I’m in my own zone. Everyone’s in their own zone, where no one’s bothering you too much. I like to be quiet. I like to meditate a lot, so I prefer things to be quiet.”



5. Personal Style Is a Journey, Not a Destination

“I’m starting to wear a lot more colors and different colored pants and trying to have a smooth look, nothing too flashy. It’s evolved for sure. At school it was just straight track pants and hoodies to class. The first year in the NBA, you try to dress up a little bit, but you don’t really know your style that much. Then, the second year, you get a couple of hoodies that you think are tough, and try to mix that with the track suit. Then, the third year, I kind of know the looks—especially going to all these events with the team, the galas and all that, I’ve shifted to dressier stuff. I see how I want my style to be. It’s been a learning experience for me.”