Canada’s Jamal Murray uses his spotlight to fight for change

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Exactly a week after Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back by police, Canada’s Jamal Murray delivered a memorable NBA playoff performance and followed it with an equally post-game interview. memorable Sunday night.Standing on the field with the faces of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor on the side of his shoes, after scoring 50 points to lead his team to victory in a must-see game against the Utah Jazz, Murray of the Denver Nuggets was asked how he was able to play through everything that had happened in the wake of the NBA players’ strike to protest social injustice and police brutality against blacks.

“These shoes mean a lot. With all the… ”Murray paused, as he was in the middle of an NBA post-game interview on TNT. “These shoes mean a lot. “

Trying to catch his breath, the emotion of the moment enveloping him, Murray leaned down and put his hands on his knees. For more than 10 seconds, he stood there to gather.

“I just want to win,” Murray said when the interview resumed. “In life you find things that are valuable to you, things to fight for. We have found something worth fighting for, as the NBA, as a collective unit. I use these shoes as a symbol for me to keep fighting, all around the world. ”

WATCH | The Breakdown: Jamal Murray’s Brilliant Game 6, post-game interview:

Freelance sports writer Vivek Jacob talks about Jamal Murray’s 50-point game and what his post-game interview meant. 4:41

Murray, 23, and his Denver Nuggets team continue to fight. Once lost 3-1 in their streak to the Utah Jazz, they have now won back-to-back games to force a decisive seventh game on Tuesday night.

Murray, who was born and raised in Kitchener, Ont., Has been nothing short of sensational during these playoffs. In fact, before Sunday’s inspired performance, Murray had already scored 50 points in one series game, followed by 42 in the next.

Only 11 teams in NBA history have returned from a 3-1 series deficit.

WATCH | Nick Nurse praises Murray:

The Toronto Raptors and the head coach of the Canadian men’s basketball team discuss the recent exploits of Jamal Murray, originally from Kitchener, Ont. 1:42

Game 6, which took place on Sunday evening, was originally scheduled for Thursday evening, but was postponed when many players in the sports world walked away from the game.

As of Wednesday afternoon, following the Blake police shooting and protests across North America, the Milwaukee Bucks did not show up in court. Dominoes fell immediately, leading to an unprecedented week in the sport as pro league players across North America demanded action.

The level of motivation to take a step back on the pitch was in question as the players spoke candidly to the media that this was more than just a game.

So when Murray and his team finally took to the pitch on Sunday night, many wondered how a team once lost 3-1 and not playing for five days was going to react.

WATCH | An extraordinary week in sport:

Devin Heroux of CBC Sports looks back on a week in sport that saw a united demonstration of solidarity between professional leagues in favor of racial justice. 2:48

Then Murray scored 50. And he continued to talk about his shoes and what Floyd and Taylor meant to him.

“I use these shoes as a symbol to keep fighting,” he said, holding back tears.

“It won’t take a night. We have been trying to fight for 400 years. But these shoes give me life. Even though these people are gone. They give me life. They help me find the strength to keep fighting in this world. . ”

The fear expressed by many players entering the Florida basketball bubble was that these names would get lost in the highlights of the night and the spotlight would be turned away from the issues these players are struggling for – and for weeks on end, that’s exactly what happened. So they walked away from the game.

The breaking point came when Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. In the bubble, where players are confined, they decided to act in a remarkably unified way.

“It’s not just in America. It happens everywhere. For us to come together, the NBA, it doesn’t take a meeting, it takes a few meetings, a few meetings. It takes phone calls. It takes persistence, ”said Murray. .

WATCH | Murray of Nuggets Too For Jazz:

Jamal Murray of Kitchener, Ont., Hit the 50-point mark for the second time in the series to lead the Denver Nuggets to a 119-107 victory over the Utah Jazz. 1:14

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