After becoming an All-Star for the first time with the Spurs, newly acquired Hawks guard Dejounte Murray is excited to form a backcourt tandem with fellow All-Star Trae Young and try to take Atlanta to the next level in the East.
Murray, who led the league in steals (2.0) and finished second in triple-doubles (13) last season, discussed his time in San Antonio, what to expect from pairing with Young, his expectations for the Hawks, and previewed his New Balance player exclusive sneakers in an interview with HoopsHype.
What made you want to join New Balance, and what do you think of the athletes on the roster so far?
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Dejounte Murray: For me, it’s just being a human and wanting to feel wanted and that love and support. You want it to feel authentic, and it’s really real and genuine. They were really supportive before I even signed with them. When I signed, everything changed, and it fit. They’re up and coming in the sports world, I think, since signing Kawhi (Leonard) and adding extra players. I think more so it was the support. You could feel the love, whether you see each other in person or you’re texting and on Zoom calls. Everybody wants the best for each other. Where it’s going for the players, I think they’re doing very well as far as picking the right guys with great character that you can hold accountable off the floor and also on the floor to continue to grow and get better while representing the brand. We represent ourselves first and foremost and the brand as well. I think we’re going in the right direction. I love all the guys, New Balance, the love and support, and the direction we’re going.
You recently met up with your New Balance Hoops teammates Zach LaVine, Jamal Murray, Darius Bazley, and Aaron Nesmith in Las Vegas. What’s it like seeing the brand take off and grow with fellow rising players?
DM: It shows we’re a bunch of guys with high character and work ethic that are really taking pride in being great people. A lot of the guys aren’t afraid to fail or to be different. It’s not easy starting something new. You have other brands that have been established for a long period of time in the sports world. We’re going in that direction. I think every single person we have on the roster is guys who take pride in helping that. It’s both sides, from everyone at the New Balance team to everybody as far as the players on the roster continuing to be great people and working hard to go out and showcase our skills, the gear, the shoes, and everything with our lifestyle and clothing all at once. I love the direction we’re going in and our roster.
Your player exclusives (PEs) are usually pretty popular among fans. Can you walk me through working with the New Balance design team and seeing your personal touches come to life in a shoe?
DM: A great thing we do is there’s freedom for everybody. When I say that, anyone who’s a part of our Zoom calls can have input to give their thoughts, and we come into one. New Balance has watched my life, and the stuff that’s put out there is stuff they pay attention to, which is important. They pay attention to little things like something about my daughter or my sister. They bring out those types of stories, and it really touches me because it shows me that they care and they’re really paying attention. If I ever have any stories from being a kid to now, they allow me to share those stories, and they come up with nice designs. If I don’t like it, they don’t feel a certain way. I have the right to say, let’s do another color or another story.
Any new PEs in the works now that you’re with the Atlanta Hawks?
DM: Absolutely. I think you’ll see every design as far as the Hawks organization and be able to see each color in different designs. Right now, I’m focusing on adding some stuff that represents Atlanta, Georgia, as a whole and bringing it to life while embracing the city as they’re embracing me.
How did you navigate any doubts, if any, about being the player you are now as an All-Star to get to this point?
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DM: I think the biggest doubt was, whatever you do, the best ability is being available. When I was hurt, I think that was the only time where I wouldn’t even call it doubt, but it was just where I was down while still working hard. I approach my profession as I’m trying to make it and keep that mindset through any workout, in the season at a practice, or doing an individual workout before the game. My mindset is always somebody is watching, whether it’s a younger kid trying to make it or anybody. For me, that mentality of always being hungry and doing whatever it takes to make it allows me to continue to grow.
How was it for you to become an All-Star in San Antonio last season and transition to the move to Atlanta this offseason?
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DM: It really was a credit to my hard work and being a great person. Most importantly, it was my work ethic to work through everything and not let anything stop me, whether it was on or off the court, and stay focused. I loved my time in San Antonio, and I think that will always be remembered. I made my first All-Star Game in San Antonio. Now, I’m looking forward to being in Atlanta and being a part of a whole new culture and new city. I can’t wait to get out there and play with my teammates.
How do you see you and Trae Young complimenting each other in the backcourt?
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DM: We’re both hoopers. We’ve been texting each day, whether it’s about life, basketball, or taking care of our family and building that chemistry. He’s a hooper, and he’s really smart. He’s willing to do what it takes to win. He’s another All-Star and a guy who works hard. He wanted me as bad as I wanted to go over there to help. They already have a culture over there that they built. There’s a brotherhood. For me, it won’t be too hard to fit in. I work hard, and I can adapt to any environment I’m put in with my style of play and willingness to learn and work. It’s going to be a smooth transition. I think we’ll figure it out. We’re both smart, and we love the game. When you add those things together, you figure out ways to win. The main goal is to win, and that’s what we both want.
What are your expectations for the Hawks this season?
DM: The expectations are to focus on the Hawks and get better each day by pushing each other from every practice and film session while taking care of our bodies off the floor and holding each other accountable. I’m not a big person on adding a bunch of expectations. I live day by day, and I try to make it to the next day. I’m excited. I think everybody else is excited. From day one, we’ve got to work hard. It’s not going to be easy. Life is hard. We’ve got to accept every challenge, work hard and get better.
Where do you think you rank among point guards in today’s game?
DM: I’ll let you and the fans, coaches, players, and everybody else do the rankings. I don’t do rankings. I really don’t fall into any of that. I love basketball. I love great players, watching basketball, studying, and getting better at basketball. I’ll continue to get better and let my game speak for itself on both ends of the floor. I don’t fall into that (rankings). I think it’s not smart because at the end of the day, the main goal is to win, so those are the ones who get rewarded for winning.
Do you have any goals this season individually this season and have you thought about your potential long-term future in Atlanta?
DM: I want to have my first practice first. They’ve had open arms and showed me nothing but love and whatever I need. The feeling they’re giving let’s me know it’s going to be great and special. I look forward to finally getting to training camp and letting the season ride and the opportunity and situation God put me in. I know it’ll be special and fun. I’ve already been around a bunch of the guys, coaches and front office guys. I can’t wait to get started.
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