It was a memorable occasion for the San Antonio Spurs on Monday, as they provided team legend Tony Parker with the ultimate honor by retiring his No. 9 jersey. From now on, no one will be wearing the No. 9 for the Spurs, out of respect and honor for Parker, who helped bring four NBA titles to the organization.
There is a matter, however, of who will be filling in the void left by Parker ever since he parted ways with the Spurs last season (or perhaps even years before his actual departure, as he slowly faded from the limelight). Right now, the title of Parker’s heir apparent has been bestowed on 23-year-old point guard Dejounte Murray. The begging question that remains, though, is if the highly promising Spurs point guard will be capable of living up to the legacy left behind by a future Hall of Famer in Tony Parker.
If you ask Parker himself, he believes that Murray is more than capable of taking over the reigns for the Spurs and becoming the team’s point guard of the future:
“I’m very proud of him,” Parker recently told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. “The Spurs are in good hands.”
Parker took Murray under his wing ever since the 6-foot-4 guard was selected by San Antonio with the 29th overall pick in 2016. These two worked very closely day in and day out for a good two seasons, and for Murray, this was unquestionably a very valuable learning experience for him. After all, who better to learn from than the legend himself?
Talking about learning, perhaps the most important thing right now for Murray is that he has the full backing of Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. The decorated coach spoke very highly of Murray, even going as far as comparing the youngster to none other than Parker himself:
“He’s a lot like Tony Parker was when he first started. He’s got some skills, he’s willing, he’s a great kid, and he’s just getting better and better,” Popovich said, via Jeff Garcia of NEWS4SA.
That’s some very high praise coming from Pop, so this is certainly something Murray has working in his favor. Coach Pop deserves a ton of credit for grooming Parker into the six-time All-Star and four-time NBA champion he became, and it does appear that the 70-year-old coach is more than willing to go through the process again with Murray.
Looking at the numbers, Murray has been outstanding for the Spurs to start the new season. The former Washington Huskies standout is currently averaging 10.9 points (on 47.5 percent shooting), 7.7 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.6 steals, and 0.6 blocks in nine appearances for San Antonio thus far. The sample size is unquestionably small, but already, Murray has been living up to the hype.
Following a season on the sidelines recovering from a major knee injury, Murray now appears to be very eager to make up for lost time. The defensive dynamo is still on a minutes limit as the Spurs slowly ease him back into action, so things should only get better for him moving forward.
At this point, it does appear safe to say that the future is looking very bright for both Murray and the Spurs. While living up to Parker’s legacy is a bit much to ask, Murray is in position to help San Antonio continue to sustain its incredible run of success.