Mark Kiszla: Jamal Murray, strawberry Starburst and why the Nuggets don't care if the Bucks traded for Damian Lillard

Mark Kiszla, The Denver Post on

Published in Basketball

DENVER — They’re all out to get the Juggernuggets. But anyone who thinks the defending champs are worried about Damian Lillard joining the Bucks or the Suns acquiring Bradley Beal has never seen Jamal Murray devour a Starburst.

While they’re assembling super teams in Milwaukee and Phoenix to stop the Nuggets from repeating, I say a bigger challenge will only make the chip on Murray’s shoulder grow larger.

Here’s the best reason I can give you to believe Denver can win back-to-back championships: This season is the chance for Murray to be truly recognized as the All-NBA player he has audaciously strived to become.

While we all know Nuggets center Nikola Jokic is the best basketball player on the planet, it’s Murray who instills Denver with its defiant, mess-around-and-find-out edge that every champ needs.

I call it the Starburst Effect.

My favorite moment from the NBA Finals, when the Heat were as good as beat, was on the eve of Game 3 in Miami, with the best-of-seven series tied at one victory apiece and many hoop pundits suggesting Denver was in deep trouble.


Rather than showing even a hint of anxiety, Murray walked into his Q-&-A session that June day with a carefree smile, munching on candy. When the microphone found me, perhaps I should’ve inquired about crunch time tenacity or defensive intensity, but instead I decided to go in another direction.

So I asked Murray: “What I really want to know is: What’s the best flavor of Starburst?”

Without a word, Murray confidently put a bright pink square between his thumb and forefinger, holding the yummy attributes of strawberry to be self-evident. Then, without further ado, the Nuggets point guard popped the chewy candy in his mouth and savored the inarguable correctness of his choice.

True to my contrarian nature, I dared to challenge Murray, suggesting that my favorite Starburst flavor was orange.


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