Future intrigues former Notre Dame All-American Troy Murphy

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

For the better part of two decades, the life and times of former Notre Dame All-American power forward Troy Murphy were dictated by basketball.

Time to get to the gym and get up more shots. Time to play another game. Time to board another flight to another city for another game. More practices. More games. More travel. More shots.

Murphy’s odyssey through the game that he picked up as a youngster back in New Jersey took him on an amazing journey. He played for three coaches in three seasons at Notre Dame, helped the Irish get to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 11 years in his final year and remains the seventh all-time leading scorer in school history with 2,011 points.

An NBA lottery pick by Golden State in 2001, Murphy spent 12 years with six teams in the NBA. He appeared in 729 games, scored 7,860 points and grabbed 5,708 rebounds in 19,921 minutes.

But when the end of the 2012-13 season arrived, Murphy knew that it was time to walk – or hobble - away. His body was just too broken. Now at age 35, and with more than enough money to do nothing for a long time (he made nearly $67 million during his NBA career), Murphy has to figure out what to do next.

He hasn’t touched a basketball in months. He cannot remember the last time he played pickup, and doesn’t feel any desire to do so.

Where does he see himself in five years? Murphy has no idea, but cherishes the chance to chase an answer.

“It’s not scary; it’s exciting,” Murphy said during a 20-minute interview with the Tribune. “I think it would be scary if I knew where I’d be in five years. It’s so exciting not knowing what your next chapter and next experience is going to bring.

“I’m looking forward to it.”

Murphy recently finished his third semester of studies at Columbia University in New York City, where he calls home, and work toward his undergraduate degree. Having left Notre Dame a year early, Murphy remains about a semester shy of his undergraduate degree. Waking up early in his East Village apartment before hopping the subway or riding his bike uptown to the Columbia campus helps Murphy work through the assorted aches and pains he felt every morning from all the years running up and down the floor. When he stepped back into the college classrooms, he felt like a college kid again. Only this time, way more mature than his days of being a little goofy – sometimes a whole lot – back at Notre Dame.

Murphy thinks of those days and shakes his head. One time, he dyed his hair bleach-blond out of boredom. The day he announced he was returning to school for his junior year instead of growing pro, he fished out a dress shirt and khakis that were balled up in the backseat of his car minutes before the press conference. There were many days when Murphy admits he “was just being a knucklehead.”

“I’m not one anymore,” he said with a laugh. “But I was 17 years old. You learn, you grow up, and get more mature.”

Murphy was honored in March during the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament as one of the league’s legends, even though he spent his entire collegiate career in the Big East. The chance to play in that league – and get back to his beloved New York – was a big reason why he chose to go to Notre Dame. Had the Irish been the ACC back when he was a senior in high school, he insists he still would have wound up in South Bend.

“It was a great decision for me,” he said. “I still feel totally connected to Notre Dame. All the things I’ve been able to accomplish in my life have been a result of going to Notre Dame.”

tnoie@ndinsider.com

(574) 235-6153

@tnoieNDI

Former Notre Dame All-American Troy Murphy has no idea what he'll do after 12 seasons in the NBA, but he cannot wait to find out.SBT File Photo