The Denver Nuggets starting point guard had an iron-man streak that was as long as it was impressive up until he missed the Nuggets’ matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers. Since the morning of Jan. 17th, Murray has fought his way through the concussion protocol after sustaining a hit to the head that left him with concussion symptoms that did not appear until the next morning, according to Nuggets’ head coach Michael Malone.
“On one hand, our team doc cleared him that night during the game and allowed him to come back in, and after the game — before we flew — he was cleared again,” Malone explained. “As we know with the concussion thing, you might feel great that night, but the next morning you may have more symptoms.”
That potential concussion kept Murray out the Nuggets’ matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night. That means it was his first game missed in quite some time. From Nov. 13th, 2015 until Jan. 17th, 2018 — just over two years — Murray did not miss a game as he played in 162 consecutive contests from his very first collegiate game with the Kentucky Wildcats, all the way until he was ruled out against the Clippers more than halfway through his sophomore season with the Nuggets.
“He played all 82 games last year with a double sports hernia, he did not miss a game at Kentucky, and it has been since high school — early in his high school career — that he missed a game so it was very tough for him,” Malone explained at shootaround prior to Denver taking on the Suns back at the Pepsi Center.
While Murray missing his first game in over two years has been difficult for the young lead guard, it seems that his return could come much sooner than expected. Before taking on the Clippers, Malone said that Murray has, “no chance,” to play against the Suns back in Denver.
That script has flipped as Murray is now questionable to play against the Suns and that does not even tell the entire story. When Murray — and the media — were informed of Murray’s upgraded availability, Murray laughed out loud and curiously asked a question with just one word — “Questionable?”
Murray feels that he is ready to get back out on the hardwood and get back to helping the Nuggets win games. It seems that Malone shares a similar thought process as Murray.
“As he advances through the protocol, I would say he is still questionable and we will find out (if he plays) tonight,” Malone said. “But I am optimistic that he will be able to play, which would be great.”
It has been a frustrating process for Murray to get back on the floor. There is a long and arduous process to get out of the concussion protocol but Murray continues to complete test after test as he claws his way back into the Nuggets’ rotation.
“There is a very thorough and detailed protocol that the NBA has regarding concussions,” Malone explained. “(Jamal) is well into clearing those protocols. Yesterday, there was a mental side of it and once you pass the mental test, they upgrade you to the physical activities — cardio — and then you have to get into a workout and they then assess you again in the morning. He was able to go through shootaround so I think they are going to assess him again tonight during pregame.”
Now, there is just one small hurdle to overcome; get through pregame warmups without a hiccup. If Murray is able to pull that off, it will lead to him being able to begin a new iron-man streak of consecutive games played, and also help a Nuggets’ team get back on track in their pursuit of the playoffs.
“It was very frustrating for him but hopefully he can take that frustration out on the Suns tonight,” Malone said.