Jamal Murray wasn’t done taking it to opponents, real or perceived, once the final buzzer sounded in the Nuggets’ Game 7 win over the Clippers on Tuesday night.
The Nuggets’ rising star, after dropping 40 points to complete the comeback from a 3-1 series deficit, also spent part of his postgame press conference calling out those who doubted his team.
“You got Shaq, you got Charles (Barkley), I think Zach Lowe his name … Stephen A. (Smith), all y’all better start giving this team some damn respect,” Murray told reporters. “Because we put in the work. We got a resilient team. We shouldn’t have been down 3-1, but to come back from 3-1 against the Clippers is a big achievement so it’s fun just to change that narrative.”
Outside of Denver, at least, the Clippers were the heavy favorites to win the series and complete the all-Los Angeles Western Conference Finals against the Lakers. But the Nuggets played spoilers and made it no secret that they were paying some attention to the outside noise.
Before Game 7, Nuggets coach Michael Malone had pointed out how each of ESPN’s 20 writers who predicted the series picked the Clippers. None of them had the series even getting to Game 7.
“Nobody wants us here,” said Nikola Jokic, who poured in 16 points, 22 rebounds and 13 assists. “Nobody thinks we can do something. We prove ourselves and proved everybody we can do something.”
Shaquille O’Neal had also called Murray “Murphy” earlier in the playoffs while fellow TNT analyst Charles Barkley had predicted before Game 5 that the series was about to end there.
Now, an even bigger challenge awaits the Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals. They aren’t likely to be picked by many experts to beat the Lakers, but that’s likely just fine by them and the growing chip on their shoulder.
“Our goal was never to get to a Game 7,” Malone said. “Our goal when we started this whole season was to win a championship. As outrageous as that may sound to people outside of our group, we never lost sight of that. We kept our belief in that.”