After an impressive 11-year NBA career, followed by a five-year stint overseas, one might think it’s time for California native Lamond Murray to step away from the game of basketball. Frankly, that’s not the case.
With two kids, a son and a daughter, Murray has always been interested in youth player development. It doesn’t take too long to find players who have succeeded with the help of Murray, as his son, Lamond Murray Jr., is currently playing Division I basketball at Pepperdine University. Now that his son is playing college ball and his daughter just graduated from high school, Murray is finding himself with more free time than ever to work with younger players. Whether he’s coaching at his own Murray Shooting Academy or holding one-on-one coaching sessions through CoachUp, Murray works tirelessly to teach today’s youth the fundamentals of the game. For Murray, this may be just the beginning of his journey, “I just want to be able to go back and work with younger players and then work my way up. That way I know the different stages of development as a player, as I did for my son, and see if it applies to all kids across the board.” Unfortunately, Murray didn’t have access to all of these coaching resources when he was growing up. Rather than private coaches and AAU teams, Murray simply had a Walkman and a dream, “Back then, one-on-one training was going to the local park and playing pickup with adults. That’s where it happened for us,” said Murray, “I would ride my bike five to six miles to the court I would play at after I did my homework. I didn’t have to ask my mom for a ride, I was gonna get there. I would get my bike, pop in my Walkman, strap it into the belt buckle, and ride and listen to my music. I was self-driven, self-motivated.” Murray’s own experience growing up as an aspiring basketball player is one of the main reasons he has taken up coaching in the first place. Looking back on his childhood, Murray recalls how playing in the park affected the mental part of his game, “When I grew up playing, I was playing park ball. I didn’t really know anything. My basketball skills were good enough but I was never really thinking the game. So we would be in the bonus and I’d be taking three-point shots. So I let guys off the hook, in terms of attacking them, and knowing that if they blow the whistle at anytime while I’m dribbling that basketball I’m walking to the free throw line. Small things like that are things I learned through coaching that I did not know through pickup.” In the end, Murray aims for his players to be fundamentally sound in both the body and the mind. He recalled former Los Angeles Clippers coach Bill Fitch’s infamous layup lines, where, rather than highlight dunks and flashy finishes, players would have to perform almost every possible layup, whether it be the overhand finish, underhand finish, reverse, or floater, with technical precision. As Murray put it, “We weren’t set out there to look cute.” Murray couples this physical precision with useful basketball terminology (e.g. “elbow”, “box”, “curl”, and “fade”) to develop all-around basketball players that are strong both physically and mentally, “Some of the best players just outthink their opponent and that’s a lost art.” Currently, Murray is focusing on helping out the game that has done so much to help him grow as a man. He’ll never forget his own journey; starting out as the young teenager at the park, yearning to gain respect from his older counterparts, to playing alongside NBA legends like Jason Kidd and Vince Carter. “That’s why I think basketball is such a great game,” said Murray, “it mirrors what you’re going to go through in life. The earlier you’re going to learn those life values, the better off you will be.”