It was late summer 2019 as American John Murry was flapping his gums almost as wildly as Eddie Murphy can when he starts getting going in interviews. In an interview with me John Murry was excited in that he was finally set to show what he can do in Europe after his professional basketball career had stalled for years. But when he entered the Dragon Dome with his new Regionalliga team Grevernbrocich, he wasn´t in uniform, but was walking in street clothes and his head was almost at his feet as he was about as down as a kid is when he gets denied the newest episode of Paw Patrol. What made our first real live encounter even worse was that I mixed him up with teammate Jahad Thomas. I knew that John Murry was injured with a fifth metatarsal fracture and hadn´t expected him to make the trip, but he did. So we met and the whole time I was thinking he was Jahad Thomas while he was giving me these strange looks wondering what was up with me. It finally made click with me after a few moments, because then I remembered that Thomas was a lot bigger guy than Murry was. We conducted a little small talk and he got a bit more upbeat when he started talking about his return from injury being somewhere in the vicinity of early November, but that never happened. One of the most difficult things for any professional athlete is sitting on the bench and being totally helpless and not being able to help his team. Murry´s team New Elephants Grevenbroich had come to Rhondorf with a loss and things weren´t going any better in their second regular season game as the Dragons Rhondorf were led by Curtis Hollis´s 26 points and 11 boards and just couldn´t find an identity on defense against the home team. Murry watched with mixed feelings from the bench wanting to help so much, but then glancing down at his foot knowing that soon his time would come. After really being down and out the last few years as basketball didn´t sufficiently pay his bills or satisfy his mind in the least and on top of that personal issues also got in the way. But he finally got his big break at the end of April as he was signed by German Regionalliga team New Elephants Grevenbroich and he was ready to show all his doubters that he truly is the real deal. He knew that he could back up his words with basketball skills. “My killer mentality is what gives me the edge and I look to take full advantage. I have a mindset that is based on being unstoppable”, warned John Murry last summer. But for now that killer mentality and unstoppable mind set on the court will have to take a breather until he can make his debut which actually has been put back until January 2020. But instead of making his comeback with Grevenbroich, instead he was asked to look for a new team as his services weren´t needed anymore with the club. Murry is still waiting for his basketball race to continue, but there is hope as some teams have been showing interest.
Murry who compares his game as a mix between a Paul George and Damian Lillard is a 24 year old 193cm guard from Indianapolis who made the NCAA, but not without having to pay his dues first in JUCO and there being able to work his way up. But before making a name for himself in JUCO, he first had to test the waters at North Central High School. Whenever he stepped on the court for his high school, he knew that he had to keep the winning tradition of the school alive as many years before he had arrived there, some well known guys had set the standard there with NBA player Eric Gordon and guys like David Logan and Jason Gardner who had massive careers in Europe. “Those guys definitely are like big brothers who helped pave the way for not only myself but many others who came up along with me. I Talked to David Logan right after I signed, and he also played in Germany and he congratulated me and gave me some strong words of wisdom and how to adapt to the European life. Also, a big brother in my corner who helped me tremendously was Greg Foster who was another European pro who won championships and made a name for himself. I played with Eric Gordon and his AAU team when I was in high school and that brought us closer together as well. All influences from these people helped me mentally in getting where I am because this is not an easy game to play and without head strength it will be hard for any person to last years in this profession”, stressed John Murry. He had that mindset already instilled in high school, but the NCAA had to wait at first. He played two seasons at Owens CC(JUCO) and was on winning teams reaching two district finals, but getting that chip didn´t happen. “Honestly nothing that we could control kept us from getting there. An interesting story is both years we lost to a buzzer beater in the final seconds. When you talk about pain, nothing in life hurts more than getting your dreams of a championship crushed in the final seconds and you have nothing you can do about it, two back to back years. Both years my team was strong, smart, tough and came to compete every night, we lost a max of 6 or 7 games in 2 years. One of the best teams to go down in the history books, but those loses taught me a lot, I never look at things as losing I either win or I learn and that’s what got me past those memories to a higher level of competition”, warned John Murry. Having to take a step back going to Owens may have been hard at the time, but in the end, it was a time where he could really work on his game and develop without feeling unneeded pressure. “My game definitely grew a lot and it made my transition to the NCAA very smooth so smooth I was ready for action the first day I stepped on campus. Our very first D-1 open gym I didn’t lose a game, I scored or assisted on almost every point and was playing at such a high level I had never played before. I got to my spots and got any shot or play that I wanted I was unstoppable, it really showed how much hard work I had put in over the summer”, added John Murry.
After two years of paying his dues in the JUCO, he finally made the step to the NCAA and joined Austin Peay in 2015. Here he would continue to tweak his game and made a huge jump scoring wise between his junior and senior years going form 5,7ppg to 16,7ppg. This was another time where he proved that with hard work and dedication that he could continue to develop his game at the next level. He finally got the opportunity to showcase his skills and he didn´t disappoint anyone. “ In conference play I averaged 20ppg and was second in player of the year voting and it all came from confidence and being comfortable on the floor. It got to a point where it felt like everything I threw in the air was going to fall in the net, no rim! There is nothing like being completely free on the court and that’s what happened to me. I was able to just play my game without having any restrictions and have fun, with those things in play the sky is the limit of how good I can really be”, warned John Murry. He did make the big dance as a senior which belonged to his biggest achievements in school, but winning the 2016 OVC title beating competitive schools Belmont and Tennessee-Martin definitely was up on his list of most memorable experiences at Austin Peay. “It was the best weekend of my life in college. I hit a game winner against Tennessee State to play Belmont in the next round and that feeling was unbelievable (that video is on youtube under my highlights). A full weekend of games, no classes, on national TV with the entire fan section behind because we were the underdogs, we made history with that championship and it felt so good. I still talk about winning that ring till this day. There is almost nothing in this world that compares to being a champion coming from the bottom and everybody is voted against you. I love it and enjoyed every second of that weekend”, explained John Murry. In between winning titles, he also remembers slapping SE Missouri State for 33 points. “That was definitely one of my best games, but I think the best one may have been a couple games before that when I had 35 against eastern Illinois at home. I was really in a zone the entire game. I loved both of those game because we were down for most of the game and came back to win both of them”, added John Murry.
Only a few years earlier when he was putting in the extra time late at night at Owens(JUCO) never giving up his dream of one day playing in the NCAA, some may have laughed if he had proclaimed then that one day he would face off against Powerhouse school Kentucky, but it actually became reality when he was at Austin Peay. It then happened not in a regular season game, but in the NCAA tournament which also turned out to be his last NCAA game. Murry gave his all never backing down against the immense talent of future NBA players like Frank Mason, Wayne Seldon and Cheick Diallo. Kentucky were the favorite and were able to play their game and win easily 105-79. The American finished the day with 13 points in 18 minutes and many many memories from just this game that he surely will be able to tell his grand children in detail one day. “Those memories last a lifetime, from walking into the arena and people asking for autographs to the final buzzer sound. I have memories of me going against Wayne Seldon and me thinking in my head he can’t guard me. No matter who is in front of me I always think they have no chance of stopping me. I remember going against Cheick Diallo who was a rim protector and finishing over the top of him going towards the rim, that was a legendary moment for me because he was projected an early pick at that time and was one of the best shot blockers in that conference, for me to finish through him was a moment I will never forget. I believe I made a free throw in that game and my confidence was through the roof off of just one free throw. I remember guarding Wayne Seldom and Frank Mason and it put into my head I can play in the NBA if this is what the future players in the NBA look like, and I still believe I’ll get to the NBA. In fact, in those games I was actually more skilled then some of them but some of them had a weight advantage and mindset of a pro that our team hadn’t tapped into collectively just yet. Playing those guys actually sparked the fire inside my head of “John you can get to the NBA” and since then that has been the end goal and I have put in overtime to get to that goal. After watching that game, I felt like I looked good and could easily make an NBA roster with a few polishes on my game and a strong agency behind my name coming from a mid-major d1 program”, said John Murry.
But as is so often the case in the sometimes very cold and competitive basketball world, reality does rear it´s ugly head through the basketball netting as wanting and actually getting is about as far away as it is for the New York Knicks attaining the 2020 NBA title. Instead of finding himself on a jet airplane on the way to Europe in the late summer of 2016, he was at home struggling to find a job. Despite having a stellar senior year at Austin Peay, there was minimal interest. One can see sometimes just how cruel and unfair the whole basketball transfer period is when there is a player like John Murry who proved day in and day out that he could compete with the best players in the country, but in the end it was coming from a less known school, weaker conference and hot having legit representation that disallowed him from getting a real fair chance in Europe. Instead he was toiling around in Canada and when looking back wasting his precious time. The only good thing about the unfortunate experience, was that his chip got bigger on his shoulder and that fire within him burned greater, because he had the continued drive to work hard and get better. In two seasons he was briefly with the Saint John Riptide (Canada-NBL Canada) and played three games with the Kitchener-Waterloo Titans (Canada-NBL Canada). The NBL is a league that has gained more and more with respectability over the years and it was a real shame that he was overlooked and just not given the chance that he deserved. “Looking back on those seasons, coaches really didn’t give me a clue as to what was going on, I feel like some wanted veteran experience and others just didn’t have an idea, I showed out as I do at every level I played at and just got better and took those as learning lessons. I became the best version and continued to get better every day. One thing I never did was let those experiences break me as a person”, expressed John Murry.
Even if the Canada ordeal must have felt like an eternity, he never did like a dog and hid his head in the sand, but just kept chipping away continuing to work on his game and also look for new opportunities that would continue his basketball dream. In the summer of 2018, he was able to take part at the well known Scorers 1st Showcase – Pro Basketball Exposure in Las Vegas which is put on each summer by German agent Gerrit Kersten Thiele. He also played with Team Minnesota at the Eurobasket Summer League in Las Vegas and put on a show in 4 games averaging 25,0ppg, 3,8rpg and 1,0apg. Being able to exhibit his game paved the road to his long journey to Germany. “It played a huge role in my career, me going out there experiencing real pro’s, being around professional coaches, and GM’s and just learning how the game goes. It was very important for me to go out there and put up those numbers so people could see who John Murry really is and what I’m about”, stressed John Murry. The doors didn´t open up to Europe right away, but he continued to live the life of a professional even if it was only semi-pro ball in the States, You have to start somewhere and that place was with the Fort Wayne Flite (CBA). Here he got another chance to prove himself and gained valuable self confidence. “The biggest benefit for me was learning a different pace and tempo learning how to slow down and process the game at different speeds while scoring the ball efficiently and looking for different areas to accelerate my game. I played behind a coach that believed in me and a mentor on the side that kept me on my toes at all times. It opened my eyes up to what I can do at a high level going into this season”, commented John Murry.
Murry finally got overseas and signed a contract with German Regionalliga team New Elephants Grevenbroich, but would never play a single second for the team. A nasty foot injury derailed his debut in Germany, but been delayed as it has been worse than what doctors thought. The American has had much time now to wonder at first how his first few possessions would be like as he was under the impression once he was healed again, he would play. He had enough time to rehab the right way and not come back to early. He remembers what it felt like when he signed the contract. “The feeling that I got in my body was incomparable and almost impossible to put into words. I received a call at my place of employment at the time and seconds later the contract was in my email. There wasn’t a better feeling that I have had in my life more recently then to look in my email and see that all I had to do was sign my name and I was onto a better life. I wanted to shout, scream, jump, dance, call somebody. It was so many things going through my head at the time I couldn’t even think straight I was just so happy that the last few years of struggle and pain I had been through had finally paid off”, stressed John Murry. He was also fortunate that his new coach Jason Price had received a tip from someone that he was the real deal. “Words can’t describe how thankful I am for my guy Jason, We saw each other in Vegas and had a real connection after he saw me play and things took off from there. He is a real down to earth guy and definitely showed what a man of his word is all about. I feel like we are going to do really big things this upcoming season”, warned John Murry back in the summer of 2019.
It Would have been nice to see what John Murry would have been capable of doing in the Regionalliga. The league is mainly dominated by strong American guards who know how to put points on the board. He whould have fit in nicely and felt comfortable right away. As is often the case with American players especially one´s that have huge chips on their shoulders and are exploding to finally show their skills, self confidence is usually never lacking, but as potent as a Steph Curry trey in crunch-time. “I’m so confident in my ability and the work that I have put in to not only be a top player but the top player in the league. I love the game so much and am a student of the game to the point I never think I’m too good. I can always get better which keeps me going higher and higher to be the best player I can be and as I always tell myself one of the best players in the world”, warned John Murryin the summer of 2019. His scoring won´t surprise anyone when he finally jumps on the court again, but another strong trait in his game may. “I feel like my athleticism will surprise a lot of people when they see me play. The fact that I can react to certain things so fast, get off the ground so quickly and have sneaky bounce off one foot or two feet going downhill may turn a lot of heads in an amazing way”, added John Murry. He is a guy that can fill the stat sheet at ease, but also wants to help his team win with big plays. He wants the world to finally notice this aspect of his game more. “My ability to close out games and hit big shots, I love having the ball in my hands with seconds left to go in the game, down by whatever amount of points and sending guys home with a L. I also have a motor that I play with that doesn’t stop, I can keep going and going which would surprise a lot of people at the pace I can keep that up”, added John Murry. Despite his annoying injury, he also hopes that the area´s of his game that he worked on last summer to improve his game will also show once he is back with a new team “I really worked on passes and making decisions in tight spaces, I also worked on shooting the deep three consistently while being tired, so I have legs to still make shots late in games. I’ve been in the weight room diligently working on my weaknesses and taking care of my body as well”, stressed John Murry.
The last months were very tough for the American waiting to get healthy again and believing that he would finally play his first minutes with the Grevenbrocih club. “Mentally it is very tough seeing your team in need and not being able to do anything about it. But I look at the positive and go day by day and see how bad it´s going to be for the opponent in front of me. It´s going to be trouble for the defender”, smiled John Murry in the summer of 2019. There isn´t a day where he doesn´t remember how tough it was to finally get through the basketball door in Europe. There isn´t a day where he won´t ask himself this question. “ How can a guy who averaged 16,7ppg as a senior for NCAA school Austin Peay have to wait three years to get a solid steady professional basketball job? “These last two years where some of the hardest times I have ever had in my life. It was a point where everything in my life was messed up, I was so hurt mentally and emotionally my mind was on a rollercoaster every day. Dealing with the absence of basketball, personal life issues, and everyday priorities it was enough to try and break me, but one thing I never stopped doing was working towards my goal. I was down bad to my last mentally and financially and invested everything I had left into myself and my workout plan. I refused to give up no matter what I went through. Coming from averaging almost 20ppg in college to sitting in games where I know I was better than the guys that played instead of me hurt me to my soul, then not being able to play at all professionally for some time killed me even more. Nevertheless I used that and everything anybody had ever done wrong to me as fuel to my fire. I would literally be in workouts like, okay he/she lied to me lets kick it up two notches, I got cut let’s kick it up two notches, you think I’m not good enough lets kick it up two notches, I did everything in my power to grind my way out of the crap that I was in, the one thing that kept me going was my mom and her routine and every day when I was younger. I never seen her quit or give up. She was in a race that challenged her at her age not to long ago and something happened to her health and she couldn’t finish I went to check on her and the first things that came out of her mouth where “I’m going back next session to finish my race” its that competitive, never quit no matter attitude that she passed on to me that kept me pushing past all negativity throughout those rough two years”, stressed John Murry. The American will be starting over again after this injury somewhere as he currently has some interest from clubs just like he had to begin from scratch at Owens CC(JUCO). John Murry is a warrior and nobody wants to mess with his chip on his shoulder that continues to grow daily. “The chip is enormous but nevertheless something that I am used to at this point. I love it because I love to prove people wrong and I also am good at making something out of nothing like you seen coming from JUCO that’s something that I never see especially in the area where I am from. I do believe that this will be a great opportunity that I will take full advantage of and supersede all expectations of me and more. The fact that I’ve been waiting on this for so long will keep the fuel fired up in me and never let me take this chance for granted as well as soak up every piece of knowledge I can. Me and my guys back home call it “seize the moment” I’ll show how good I am and where I deserve to be just like I did in the beginning of my career”, warned John Murry in the summer of 2019. The American has been a relentless warrior for years and this new set back with Grevenbrocih hasn´t ruffled his feathers in the least. I am confident he will be back, if not in the stretch run now, then next season. John Murry will never quit as his basketball race continues to be a long one, but always on the go as he patiently waits for the next opportunity to finally seize the moment.