SAN ANTONIO – Welcome back to San Antonio, Dejounte Murray.
For the first time since he was traded last summer, Murray returned to the Alamo City on Saturday afternoon representing Atlanta ahead of Sunday’s matchup between the Spurs and Hawks.
After spending his first five NBA seasons wearing the silver and black, Murray will enter the AT&T Center through the visitor’s locker room donned in red, yellow and white. That doesn’t change how he feels about the city of San Antonio.
“I’m familiar with everything,” Murray said. “I love San Antonio. We just got here, and I was smiling because I love it here. My teammates were asking about the house I just sold. It’s home. I just want to go, have a great time, get a win, see great people and get out.”
The “great people” Murray is referring to obviously includes Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. The two embraced after the Hawks and Spurs’ first meeting in Atlanta back on February 11, and Murray gave a special shout-out to his head coach via Twitter with multiple pictures of the two together, saying “My OG 4 Life. Don’t Ever Get It Twisted!!!! LOVE YOU OLD MAN!!”
When asked about his relationship with Coach Pop at Saturday afternoon’s media availability, Murray didn’t shy away from lavishing some more praise.
My OG 4Life. 💯 Don’t Ever Get It Twisted!!!! LOVE YOU OLD MAN!! 🖤 pic.twitter.com/SuV8iGKVlA— Dejounte Murray (@DejounteMurray) February 12, 2023
“That’s just something that will last forever,” Murray said. “Coming into the NBA at 19 years old, and especially coming into San Antonio and being around this organization, it really taught me how to value more and more relationships. It just showed me that it’s bigger than basketball. Basketball is a game to be played. You win or you lose, but I feel like in this business and this league, relationships are what matters the most for me. Somebody like [Coach Pop], he’s a motivator and a father-figure to me. He’s somebody that I put in countless days, months and years with, so I love him. I know he loves me. It was great to see him [in Atlanta], and I can’t wait to see him again.”
While a decent chunk of his social media commentary regarding the Spurs has been positive, Murray has not shied away from criticizing his former team.
Soon after he was traded, Murray responded to Spurs fans’ barbs by commenting on the Spurs’ farewell Instagram post and saying “The Way That System Set Up You Gone Be Losing For The Next 15 Yrs!!! Problem Bigger Than Basketball.” He also angered Spurs fans in January with his comments during an appearance on the “All The Smoke” podcast hosted by former NBA players Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, where he criticized legendary point Tony Parker for his selfishness and the Spurs organization for playing mind games with him as a rookie.
The Spurs will undoubtedly play a tribute video dedicated to Murray’s time here in San Antonio prior to Sunday afternoon’s tip off. He doesn’t know what kind of reception he will get.
“You’ve got a lot of people that’s mad, and you’ve got a lot of people that’s happy,” Murray explained. “The real people that are real humans... They understand that it’s appropriate for us to say how we feel. We shouldn’t get judged because we have more money than you, or we have more fame than you. I feel like they’re the ones that are going to show me the love that I deserve. At the end of the day, I love this city. I love the Spurs organization. However it’s going to go is however it’s going to go, but I’m excited to see the people that I love and care about.”
The Spurs and Hawks will tip off Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m.