"That’s when I’m my best player," says Shay Murphy, "when I can play well with my team, when we’re high-fiving, chest-bumping and everything’s going in.
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CLEVELAND, April 2, 2007 There are some players who seemed nervous upon arriving at the WNBA Pre-Draft Camp. If USC guard Eshaya "Shay" Murphy was nervous, she certainly didn't hide it in reticence.
Murphy is an easy to like, chatty and self-effacing Los Angeles-area native who loves to tell stories and just so happens to be one of the top twos in the WNBA Draft. She sat down for a chat with WNBA.com's Adam Hirshfield to discuss her strange beginnings in the game and her utter inability to talk trash on the court.
Q. How did you get started playing basketball?
Murphy: "Well, my father passed when I was younger, and I didn't start playing until I was 12. And my mom doesn't really know that much about basketball. The story goes like this: I was actually doing karate, hapkido, and I saw these kids wearing these YMCA junior Lakers jerseys. They all had purple shorts with the gold Lakers sign on them. I thought those were so cool. I wanted one of the jerseys. And my mom said, OK, you have to choose (basketball or karate). And I said, I want that, and that's how I started playing basketball, and I still have my yellow junior Lakers jersey."
Q. What strengths and skills will you bring or add to a WNBA team?
Murphy: "I think I have so many weaknesses. I harp on those too much, but I think I'm a player willing to do whatever it takes. I'm a coach's player. If you want me to cheer, I'll be the best at it 'Good shot, guys! Way to go! Did you see that shot?' High-fives I'll do whatever it takes. I just want a shot and I'll do whatever it takes. I'll set screens if you want me to set screens, I'll rebound, I'll defend. Just give me something to do and I'll totally do it."
Q. What about blogging for WNBA.com?
Murphy: "Yeah, if it will get me on the team and I can wear the WNBA.com jersey, then totally. But really, I just want a chance, and I'll do whatever you ask me to do. I don't talk back. Even if I don't agree with it, I'll do it anyway, because you're a coach and you know everything, right? So I bring a positive energy, a work ethic. Whatever the team needs me to do, I'll do it without any questions."
Q. What do you feel you still need to work on to excel at the next level?
Murphy: "No. 1 is my confidence. I really think I'm not that good. Seriously, how did I get invited to this thing? There goes so-and-so they're so good. And me? Oh my gosh, I sucked Also, I need to work on my ball-handling skills and attacking the glass consistently. Other people say my 3-point shooting, but I see that as one of my strengths. I'm really confident shooting 3's, especially if I'm left open. There's so much you can constantly work on, but if I could do those things more consistently, I think it would help."
Q. Did you have a favorite team growing up?
Murphy: "I didn't really know that much about basketball when I started playing at 12. And even then, I didn't really watch that much basketball. I got really into it when the WNBA first came out -- oh my gosh, I loved Lisa Leslie. I kind of fell off of basketball after a while.
"But then as I got older and started working out and my work ethic got a little more serious, I decided that this is what I want to do. This is my goal, this is my desire. I started getting passionate about it. And when I get passionate about something, I'm like, 'Oh! My! Gosh! I have to do this!' "
Q. Who are your favorite players to watch?
Murphy: "I liked Cynthia Cooper a lot. Deanna Nolan, I think she's awesome. Nicole Powell is like my favorite player of all time. She was my Nike camp counselor and I thought she was just so cool. 'Oh my god, she knows my name!' She wears No. 14, I wear No. 14. I finally played against her when I was a freshman and she was a senior and (fanning her face) oh my gosh, she said hi to me!"
Q. Is there a specific WNBA team you would like to play for?
Murphy: "I don't know. I haven't given it any thought. Whoever wants me, I'll play for them. I just want someone to want me. Pick me, please!"
Q. What kind of team do you want to play for?
Murphy: "If I have a great coach and a great team, it makes basketball so much fun. That's when I'm my best player: when I can play well with my team, when we're high-fiving, chest-bumping and everything's going in. When there are only one or two go-to players, that's not fun everyone wants to be involved."
Q. What is the best piece of advice anyone ever gave you?
Murphy: "I hear pieces of advice all the time, but it seems like it goes in one ear and out the other. But if there's something I need to learn, it's to believe in yourself, to believe that you're one of those great names. Like, (Stanford's) Brooke Smith. Oh my gosh!
"But my favorite quote goes something like this: 'Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.' That's only part of it... it goes on into this long, awesome thing that totally applies to me. It's not the fact that I'm not good enough. It's that I'm scared to be as good as I can possibly be. A friend of mine showed that to me, and I had it as the quote on my Facebook wall for a while."
Q. Do you talk trash out on the court?
Murphy: "Yeah, right. I'm the last person who's going to do that. I'm more like the person who if they call a foul on the player (guarding me), I'm like, 'Oh no, are you alright?' No way, I can't talk trash. I don't even know how to be mean. I try sometimes to sound all hard, but my teammates just laugh at me. I try, but I really can't do it."
Q. What should a WNBA fan know about you, Shay Murphy, the person?
Murphy: "I love to snowboard. I would definitely be a professional snowboarder if I couldn't play basketball. And I love to sing and dance. I'm in a vocal class right now and I want to be an entertainer, a singer. I asked my coach during my sophomore year for a leave of absence so I could go try and perform. He said I needed to choose, and I was heartbroken. And the thing is, I suck at singing. I'm probably going to fail my class because I'm just the worst singer. But I just have so much passion for it. R&B and pop very commercialized stuff."
Q. What do you want to do after your basketball career comes to an end?
Is entertainment something you'd like to pursue?
Murphy: "Yeah, entertainment or the ministry. I got saved a couple of years ago, and even though I'm not that smart when it comes to the Bible, there's so much I want to know about. I would love to go on missions. Someone told me once to combine the two. I've been involved in the campus ministry in college, so maybe I could start a program like that at the professional level."
Q. Talk to me about fashion. How important to you is style and looking good?
Murphy: "Off the court, I'm such a bum. I wear crocs all the time now. If I go out to the mall, I'll put a pair of cute jeans on, but I'll always wear my big, red crocs. I never wear real shoes anymore unless I'm on the basketball court. And I can't wait for them to come out with basketball crocs, because I'll be their spokesperson. I'll wear them all the time."
Where will Shay and her red crocs wind up in the WNBA? To find out, stay tuned to WNBA.com and watch on ESPN2 on Wednesday, April 4, at 1 p.m. ET for comprehensive coverage of the WNBA Draft.