2001-02-10 / Sports

Athlete of the Week: Taylor Murphy

Athlete of the Week: Taylor Murphy

By Emanuel Jalonschi

Taylor Murphy, a 6’5" junior at John Adams, typifies what a coach dreams of in a basketball player. He’s big, he’s quick and he’s in love with the game of basketball. A true devotee of the game, he has a dedication and layering of skills that is very uncommon for most athletes his age.

Snapping photos shooting questions at Taylor in a gym on a snowy night is probably the best way to get into the mind of this determined young man. He appears cool and collected but possesses a killer mentality. The fluidity of his motions give the appearance that he’s not the fastest guy around. Then again, appearances are very deceiving. The first time I attempted to take a photo of him dunking, he had already landed by the time I was ready to snap the picture.

Taylor, possessing a bit of a reserved personality, responds to questions about his stats in a calm monotone. Get him talking about his teammates or the battles he’s had in the post and it’s a completely different story. For example, he talks about a scar on his lip (his tooth actually went through his lip) that he received in a game where he was pitted against a center who was 6’9". By the way, he schooled the guy. He outscored him 25 to 6 while snatching 17 rebounds.

It’s also surprising to hear that a guy who leads his division in both scoring and rebounding (first in the city in scoring, fourth in rebounding) is primarily a team player. He’s fourth in the division in assists. He also knows everyone of his teammates game and the way his entire team at John Adams fits into a nice tight picture. For example, Taylor talks about senior Scott Provence who has a nack for feeding him the ball in the perfect spot at the perfect time.

He leads a team that looks absolutely intimidating out of Queens B-1. Consider this: six out of the leading ten scorers in his division go to John Adams. That’s an entire starting line-up and somebody off the bench. There’s only one word to describe them: scary.

On top of all this there are three primary reasons why Taylor Murphy is a very worthy first "Athlete of the Week."

First of all, he’s got a multi-faceted game. While he averages around 29 points and 13 rebounds a game, somehow, he still manages to keep his 3-point percentage around 40 percent.

Second of all, there is his dedication to the sports. Right now he plays in three different basketball leagues. He’s very determined to continue playing. During his freshman year, when he broke his arm, he didn’t give up. When, during his sophomore year, there were academic complications that prevented him from playing, he didn’t give in. Now it’s his junior year, he’s healthy, he’s talented and he’s a John Adams Honor Roll student.

Thirdly, he loves the game. He absolutely loves the game. When I asked him why he digs basketball he just smiles. The game truly brings him a lot of joy. He has wanted to play on the professional level since he knew the great MJ had no hair but skills to spare. I kept badgering him and he eventually answered. The thing is, he didn’t give me the "jock" answer I expected. Rather, he gave me the sort of thing Phil Jackson might say.

"It just makes me feel special. It takes me away [and] puts me in a different place."

How many basketball players do you know that can wax poetic and smash a backboard into pieces using a tomahawk jam?


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