Interview with Jamal Murray at Denver Nuggets about his recovery from his injury

Today, Denver Nuggets star Jamal Murray is back doing reverse dunks on giant humans, hitting game winners and leading the Nuggets to one of the best records in the NBA. But before that, he defeated the toughest challenge of his career that you’ve probably faced yourself: insecurity. “When you are injured, you are in the unknown. You don’t know what’s going to happen, whether you’ll recover or what the results will be,” says Murray. “I used to be very afraid of the unknown, but now I embrace it.”

Murray’s unknown arrived at the Chase Center in San Francisco on April 12, 2021. His Nuggets faced the Golden State Warriors in front of over 18,000 people. But in the closing minutes of the game, that crowd could only watch as he writhe in pain, clinging to his left thigh after tearing his ACL.

In the days that followed, Murray’s greatest came into isolation. When walking down the stairs alone was impossible, there were no screaming fans cheering him on. The countless one-legged shots he took shortly after surgery while his left leg was wrapped in a cast to preserve his sanity and experiment with the limits of his body will not appear in any box score, but count for so much more than points .

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Your journey to victory does not begin until you accept defeat. Two months after undergoing surgery to repair his ACL tear, Murray was back in the weight room trying a trapbar deadlift. Usually he would crush this elevator. But this time, as he was drenched in sweat, he struggled to force his left leg to move. His left thigh was half the size of his right. Struggling with quadriceps atrophy, he could barely straighten his leg on leg extensions. And as he struggled off the field, his team fell without him: his Nuggets endured another first-round exit of the playoffs.

Murray looked set to face defeat after defeat. “If you can’t do a simple exercise in the weight room, and you’re thinking about basketball all the time, around the team, and they’re playing games and playing hard; it’s hard to watch,” he says.

Here’s how Murray fought back and how you can beat injuries and failures too.

Start with small movements, not big ones.

You might want to jump straight to a 315-pound squat on your first day back at the gym. Do not. Murray didn’t. Instead, he spent a year working with his trainer Matt Tuttle, building his body (and mind) on small victories. After not getting off the ground for the first five months of his recovery, it felt like he could finally do small jumps on his water treadmill, like dropping a triple-double. About a month later, he was able to jump from a standstill and grab the rim, the first time he says he was able to get visual evidence that his body was improving and the first time he was able to pull off such an athletic feat . achievement in his entire life. Murray not only returned to his old self; he started to patch it.

“Once I started getting on the rim, I started to get excited, and that’s when I started to see the most improvement. It was visual for me. You can get stronger, but if you don’t see it, you don’t believe it anymore.”

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To do this, during the training weeks, tedious, mostly one-leg exercises that targeted different muscles were required. He was finally able to do the trap bar deadlifts that previously eluded him to primarily train his quads and help build the strength and explosiveness needed to dunk again. The Bulgarian split squats engaged his glutes while also working his core.

Murray also employed advanced techniques, using a blood flow restriction kit on his quad to encourage faster healing. He became almost obsessive with refining every little detail about the player he used to be. “I watched the 50-point games every day. I also watched my good and bad matches. I watched my training and scrimmage every day. I watched my footwork and rewinded it while taking notes on some of the smallest things that you wouldn’t even notice.”

Seek wisdom from those who have been there.

Chances are you’re not the first to struggle with an injury. Murray knew that, so he sought advice from other NBA players who had sustained ACL injuries, such as Miami Heat guard Victor Oladipo, Boston Celtics forward Danilo Gallinari, Chicago Bulls guard Zach Lavine, and even Peyton Manning, who suffered neck injuries. that changed his career. , and came back better than ever. “They told me not to be afraid to experiment with my body to see what I could do without pushing the limits.”

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Find your own motivation

Lifting weights, 5v5 basketball battles and superstar advice would mean nothing without the right mindset. He reminded himself that everything he did had a purpose (“I used to play mental games with myself to keep myself motivated”) and remained aware of the bigger picture (“I knew that the work I did then would pay off later.” shed and would form a foundation for years to come”). He didn’t have tens of thousands of screaming Nuggets fans cheering him on the days when he struggled to lift like he used to, nor did he have someone to constantly update the public on his progress And he needed none of it, because in rebuilding who you are, you often need yourself above all else to count the victories that the world may never see.

“Patience is key, and self-motivation is key,” says Murray. “Get through those days when you don’t want to do it. Those are the days when you need to do it the most. That mentality will stay with you even if you’re not hurt.”

With the most grueling rehab of his career under his belt, Murray is back to blow it up on the field. He hasn’t played a 50-point game like he did before his injury (and he knew he wouldn’t be back any time soon), but exploded off his left leg for acrobatic finishes as a man unable to walk unassisted up the stairs from 18 months ago. He was already winning in himself before stepping back onto an NBA court; now it’s time to show the world what Jamal Murray 2.0 is made of.

Keith Nelson is a writer by destiny and journalist by passion, who has connected dots to form the bigger picture for Men’s Health, Vibe Magazine, LEVEL MAG, REVOLT TV, Complex, Grammys.com, Red Bull, Okayplayer and Mic, to just to name a few.

Interview with Jamal Murray at Denver Nuggets about his recovery from his injury

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