Nuggets put unfair pressure on Jamal Murray to return

Amit Mann is joined by Jackson Frank to discuss how the Denver Nuggets, perhaps unknowingly, shifted all the pressure on Jamal Murray to decide when to return and why enough hasn't been made of the mental hurdle of returning from potential career-altering injuries.

Video Transcript

AMIT MANN: He sent a tweet yesterday and it was just like, y'all don't think I want to be out there huh, crazy. And there's a lot of quote tweets to it of people questioning his desire to be a Denver Nugget and you know, how much does he want to win, and stuff like that. And I guess it bothered me seeing that kind of stuff. I'll let you go first, but what is your take on where this is now? Because I think there have been some mistakes on the Nuggets side, but I'll let you go first.

JACKSON FRANK: Yeah, I just never think as fans, writers, whoever you are as an outsider, you're covering the league, even if you're an insider, it's never our position to question like these things about players that we don't know. And I can't even imagine-- And especially with Murray, especially his first two games, where he's playing in the arena basically a year after, or he's watching team play a year after he suffered that injury. He was in Golden State and like there's a physical, mental kind of I guess hurdle you have to jump over.

I've fortunately never had to sustain someone like that, like work past any injury. But I can at least sympathize with the idea that, yeah you can be cleared, but if you don't trust your full capabilities in that knee then why would you be out there? And so I'm sure it's compounded, as I said, by the fact that he would probably be debuting in the place where he last injured in. That would give me heebie jeebies, personally. I can't imagine what it's like to actually have to consider that option.

Yeah, I think it's never anyone's place to question that sort of thing. And I think it's very much, even to throw a tweet out there, I think every player in the NBA has a certain level of competitive drive. I think Murray in his four or five years now has shown maybe he's even above average. I know he played through a sports hernia I think his rookie year because clearly had been like super impassioned. That run during the bubble when he's incredible and just some of his post-game speeches and whatnot.

This is a guy that clearly the competitive hunger is there. He's not sitting out. If we're not going to make assumptions about players, at the very least if you're going to, all he's shown us is that he wants this more than, I wouldn't say everyone, but like he's shown me he has the requisite level of competitive hunger. I'm sure he wants to be out there. I'm sure just like watching his team lose by 20 in back to back games.

So I just think it's something that we as fans, writers, media, whoever you are, it's not a line we should cross. And for lack of a better-- For the best, it's inappropriate. It's not our place to do that. And so I sympathize with him and I hope he's able to come back whenever that is, on his terms. It would be awesome if that was some time this series.

At the very least, I know we'll get a very, very good and fun and awesome Jamal Murray next fall. But I hope he does on his terms and doesn't let this outside noise affect him whatsoever because it's not fair.

AMIT MANN: And from the player perspective, I've only heard Nikola Jokic address this once but from what he said, he said that I want him to return when he's completely comfortable. And that's all he said about it. But the reason why I'm questioning the Denver Nuggets, the way they've approached it-- And I don't think they're doing this on purpose. I think maybe they just maybe made a mistake, is that when you make when you make that heel turn saying, you know what it's up to Jamal.

Now the onus is on Jamal. And it's been pretty clear now that the only thing holding up Jamal Murray being on the court against the Golden State Warriors is Jamal because he's been medically cleared. But I don't think there's been enough made of the mental aspect, like you mentioned earlier. And that's Klay Thompson, he mentioned this too. He's actually talked to Jamal Murray about his recovery and he said the toughest thing was jumping and landing and knowing you're going to be OK.

You can't fix that, that's nothing that's physical, that is mental and that's not going to happen overnight, man. That is a really, really hard transition to make. And if you do something like, oh I don't know, Kevin Durant when he returned in game 5 of the NBA Finals and then now all of a sudden you hurt yourself further and you miss a whole season. Like you have to be--

I'm sure NBA players are looking at the example of Kevin Durant and I'm thinking Kevin Durant has also thought about this saying maybe I didn't make the right call there. But he probably felt the pressure and he wanted to play, his competitive spirit came through. And so we returned and then what happened is what happened. But I think with some of these major injuries, it feels like there needs to be like a new mandate in place where there's a mental aspect that a player has to clear and that's something that's done through a doctor.

Because I don't think enough is being made of that aspect, with respect to Jamal, because the heat that he's receiving is really unfair. And with the Nuggets they probably could have, instead of saying it's up to Jamal we're leaving it with him, just keep on saying he'll return when he's ready. Or even just say this, rule him out, like maybe Jamal is still wrestling with this. It's quite possible, but just don't answer the question. Put your media PR hat on and just don't answer it.

Like people are going to keep on asking, just keep on saying the same damn thing over and over. Because now the fact that this is like Jamal is feeling more pressure than he's already feeling, it just doesn't seem right.

JACKSON FRANK: Yeah. I agree. I think they're some of the comments, and I agree that you don't know whether it's intentional or not, but regardless it's put the onus on Jamal and that's unfair for him. It's OK to just say we're going to keep this timeline private. He's progressing well, he'll return when everyone involved says he'll return. You don't have to put the onus on him like that.

And just like in general, I've never had this sort of injury and this is a much smaller scale I'm not trying to compare myself to a player, but like a few years ago like I sprained my ankle a few times. And I would get scared to jump and like push off that ankle. And like I can't imagine what it's like to try and jump and feel stable in your ACL. It's a much different scale, but just when you've had an injury like that it limits you, you don't trust your body immediately.

But I totally agree that like just keeping it private, even just saying no comment, or just boilerplate tagline that doesn't put any pressure on anyone would be the best way to go about it. Because yeah, as you said, it's unfair and unfortunate that there just feels like there's all this pressure on Jamal when he should not have to deal with it and he should have to tweet that. You're not seeing Kawhi tweet it. I mean Kawhi, I guess Kawhi has only been 10 months, but there's nothing there. You come back in your own time.

Just very unfortunate. I don't know why. I guess for some reason I thought the Kawhi thing was less recent, but I guess it's only been 10 months. But point being is, players should come back on their own time. And it's OK if these sorts of injury recoveries and timelines are kept private because you don't necessarily need to be privy to all of them.

AMIT MANN: Yeah granted, I mean I'm sure the Denver Nuggets, like if he's there, Michael Porter Jr. Is there, they're probably in a spot where they could be contending for an NBA championship. But that window is going to stay open for them.

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