Murphy Burnatowski is a 25 year old 200cm forward from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada that is playing his third professional season and first with Cytavision Apoel Nicosia (Cyprus-Division A). He started his basketball career with Maine (NCAA) in 2009 where he plyed two seasons playing 56 NCAA games. He then moved to Colgate (NCAA) where he played two seasons and 62 NCAA games and as a senior played 30 games averaging 14.2ppg, 4.2rpg, 1.6apg, 1.4spg, FGP: 45.5%, 3PT: 37.9%, FT: 76.8%. He started his professional basketball career in 2014 with WKS Slask Wroclaw (Poland-TBL): 12 games: 1.2ppg, 1.4rpg, left in Jan.’15, later that month moved to SLUNETA Usti nad Labem (Czech Republic-NBL, starting five): 21 games: 11.5ppg, 5.4rpg, 2.1apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 44.5%, 3PT: 30.4%, FT: 67.2%. Last season he played with Starwings Basket Regio Basel (Switzerland-LNA, starting five): 30 games: Score-3(20.5ppg), 7.5rpg, 1.7apg, 1.6spg, FGP: 53.4%, 3PT: 34.1%, FT: 72.0%. He spoke to German Hoops before a Fiba Europe Cup game in Bonn against the Telekom Baskets Bonn.
Murphy thanks for talking to German Hoops. Welcome to Germany. What experiences have you had here? You played in the Czech republic as a rookie and last season with the Starwings Basket Regio Basel (Switzerland-LNA)
I have been to Germany many times. Most recently last season when I was playing in Switzerland. Basel was only about a five-minute drive from the German border so I would go frequently.
Your playing your first season with Cytavision Apoel Nicosia (Cyprus-Division A). As a Canadian how refreshing is it living in a warm place after living in cold places like Maine, New York and Europe the last years?
I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss the snow just a little but its nice being able to still wear shorts and sandals in December. Even if some of my Cypriot teammates still look at me like I’m crazy.
The club is 3-3 in the Fiba Europe Cup and 4-4 in the Cyprus league. Do you feel like the team is a better club than what it´s record displays?
There are definitely 2-3 games we wish we could have back as we have had some close losses. In FIBA cup we did what we needed to do to advance and are excited for the next round. The Cypriot league is a small 6-team league and every game is a war. As long as we keep improving I think we will be where we want to be come playoffs.
What has it been playing with four other Americans while being a Canadian. The five of you are all averaging double figures in each competition. It seems like everyone has left their ego on the shelf?
Coach stresses we play the right way. We look to exploit the mismatches and advantages we have in any given game. Sometimes that means you are the go to guy and other times it means you are a role player but I believe it makes it harder on the competition to scout and prepare for us.
How important has a guy like American Akeem Wright been for you? Granted your no rookie anymore, but he has so much more experience than you. What has been the most valuable thing that you have picked up from him this season?
You see a lot of guys become complacent with their game, as they get older. I have been impressed with Akeem’s drive to get better even though he is approaching the last few years of his career. Whether it’s through film or on court he’s constantly trying to improve his weaknesses, something I hope to keep doing as my career progresses.
What is your role on the team? On a team that has many scoring option has it been tough not being that main scoring option which you were last season for the Starwings Basket Regio Basel (Switzerland-LNA)?
Every year that you come into a new team, full of guys who have never played together, there will be a period of time it takes to get familiar with every ones game and how the coach wants you to play. We are at the point in season now in which everyone knows what is expected of them and what we need to do individually for us to be successful as a team.
If you had to to what NBA player could you compare your style of play on the court?
I think I play similar to Kevin Love even though I am a bit shorter. Shooting might be the best aspect of my game but also able to post up and rebound.
You are a guy that can really fill the stat sheet, but do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t get noticed right away?
The cliché answer would be passing but I am going to go with that anyways. I think I am able to find my teammates when put in a position to do so.
How vital was head coach Robert Pavaloski last season for your development as a player? How quickly did he find trust in your game?
Coach Pavaloski let us to play really freely, something that really helped me after a rocky rookie season. I think it can sometimes benefit the team to play stress free and I think it allowed us to win some games that some wouldn’t have expected us to.
As a rookie you played for WKS Slask Wroclaw (Poland-TBL): 12 games: 1.2ppg, 1.4rpg, left in Jan.’15, later that month moved to SLUNETA Usti nad Labem (Czech Republic-NBL) playing 21 games: 11.5ppg, 5.4rpg, 2.1apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 44.5%, 3PT: 30.4%, FT: 67.2%. What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Europe where you knew that you were very far away from Waterloo, Ontario?
I realized that there is no learning period for rookies, especially on a team that was as experienced and competitive as Slask was that year. Teams want you to produce whether you’re a rookie or a 10-year pro and I knew I had to change my mindset if I hoped to be successful in this business.
You started your NCAA career in 2009 with Maine where you played until 2011. What overall experience was that for you? Did you feel like you could have been more of a factor on the offensive end?
I learned a lot in my time at Maine. I had some great teammates to show me the ropes of what NCAA basketball was all about. I wasn’t too worried with my offense while I was there. We had some really good seasons that didn’t end the way we wanted them too but I learned from that and it has helped me as a player.
You then moved to Colgate and had two fantastic years. How vital was head coach Matthew Langel for grooming and preparing you best for a professional basketball career?
Coach Langel helped me tremendously on the court and really challenged me while I was at Colgate. I believe he not only made me a better player but a better person as well. I still enjoy going back to visit during the summer.
You had Michael hakim Jordan as an assistant coach for two years. What was your fondest memory with him and couldn´t he easily have his own TV show with his personality?
Being competitive must have something to do with the name Michael Jordan because whether it was on the court, during a conditioning drill, or even playing a game of Madden this guy hated losing to the extreme. However, when he decided to take part in conditioning it added some extra motivation not to lose a sprint to your coach.
When he was a professional in Germany he loved catching his teammates on film sleeping on raoa trips on the bus. Did he continue to practice that ritual at Colgate?
Yes, he most certainly did.
You played at the Albert Schweitzer International Tournament in Mannheim (Unofficial World Championships U18) in 2008. What memories do you have of this time and what players do you remember standing out there that have become big time players?
It was my first taste at international competition and it was one of the most exciting experiences I have had as a basketball player. There are a few big names I remember standing out including NBA players Matthew Dellavedova, Enes Kanter and I believe the MVP was Greece’s Nikos Pappas.
You have had your time with the Canadian national team. Have you ever seen a better brother duo than the Scrubbs? How special are they as players and people?
Growing up they weren’t always the top prospects but you could tell by their character and work ethic that they could be something special. They are both great teammates and know how to play the game the right way. I think a lot of that can be contributed to their time at Carleton University.
Philip Scrubb has been called the greatest Canadian college player of all-time. Could he be the next Canadian NBA player?
Sky is the limit for Phil. His shooting ability alone puts him in an elite class. Adding in his play making skills I wouldn’t be surprised if he found himself on an NBA roster at some point in his career.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Damon Sherman-Newsome?
Dame was too busy getting cooked by Coach McGarvey to have time to play me.
If you had to construct your own NBA Rushmore, which 4 heads would you choose?
Jordan, Kobe, Lebron, Shaq
Lebron finally brought an NBA title to the Cavs. Where does he stand at the moment in the never ending debate with where he stands as the best of all-time?
2nd to MJ
Klay Thompson recently hit 60 points in 29 minutes touching the ball for only 90 seconds. Where does this performance rank with you?
I don’t think we will ever see a performance like that again. Usually when someone goes off for 60 they have the ball in their hands the whole game. His ability to move without the ball and find ways to score is a big part of why Golden State is so successful. It allows the other players to be more ball dominate.
One always talks about Lebron and Curry, but one has to mention Russell Westbrook. He is averaging triple double stats at the moment. Is he stat wise the best player in the world right now?
It would be hard to argue against that. I think the most impressive part of it all is his motor and consistency. Will be interesting to see how he holds up over an 82 game season but he hasn’t lost a step yet.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Not a movie but HBO’s Westworld was the real deal.
Thanks Murphy for the chat.