After the Denver Nuggets shocked the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference Semifinals, Jamal Murray spoke about how his team felt disrespected by figureheads in the media like Shaquille O’Neal, Zach Lowe, and others.
As they moved on to face the L.A. Lakers, Murray wanted to make sure he got what he felt his team deserved. The Lakers easily handling the Nuggets in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals did not help Murray’s case, as very few legitimately predicted a Denver series win.
Murray will need to work extra hard to earn respect in this series, as L.A. poses tons of matchup threats to Denver. As for O’Neal, who was specifically called out by Murray, he felt that the Nuggets had not yet earned respect, via NBA on TNT:
“Ernie, let me tell you a story that hopefully people can relate to. You guys knew my father, you know my father was hard,” O’Neal said. “After we beat Michael Jordan, I said the same thing to my father. He said, ‘What’s wrong? You’re not smiling.’ I said, ‘Ernie and the guys still don’t respect me.’ You know my father said? ‘You ain’t done nothing yet.’ And what happened the next round? We got swept by the Rockets.
“So, you want my respect? Win a ring. If you want to be on this level with me and Kenny (Smith), win a ring. Listen, how you’re playing is remarkable. We’re going to give you all the props, you hit some great shots, you’re playing your ass off. But, you want my respect? Win the whole thing. You came back down 3-1 twice, you get the golf clap. But, you want my respect? You want to impress me? Beat the Lakers and win a championship.”
While Murray is completely entitled to his feeling of the team being disrespected, O’Neal is also right to say the Nuggets haven’t earned consistent respect yet. Teams usually don’t gain national notoriety and adoration just for getting past the second round.
This is especially true when only one member of their roster — Paul Millsap — had ever even been to a Conference Finals before this season. In the Eastern Conference, the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics already had respect due to the history of success with the franchises themselves and the players representing them this season.
Murray hoping to earn the respect of referees in Lakers series
Murray’s feeling of disrespect has become a theme in all phases of the game, as he feels his team hasn’t earned their due from referees as well.
“Respect is earned in every aspect,” he acknowledged after Game 1. “With your play, with how you talk to the referees. I always try to be as respectful as I can when I go to talk to them. You can ask every single one of them, but it’s something you can’t focus on.”
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