Five-on-Five with Shay Murphy

After the injury, how has your journey been to get back onto the court?

It was my first injury of my career at age 30. So I was kind of fortunate. I had already won a Euroleague Championship, already got the WNBA, so I didn’t really have a rush to get back. I wanted to really take some time to recover and actually enjoy L.A., enjoy the time off because playing year round for WNBA, overseas, seven years in a row was a lot. It was kind of like a bitter sweet, blessing in disguise. I was able to get more involved at my church, spend time with family and just work on little things that I don’t have time to work on during the offseason. Really focus on my legs and get stronger. I think the recovery time was supposed to be 12 months, I came back in nine. I had a couple offers at eight months, but I didn’t take them, just because I wanted to be for sure I was ready in January. So I went over to France and won the Eurocup Championship. It was great. This past year in Turkey, I really just got my confidence. I actually feel better than I have felt in my whole life and just more confident, more secure, and do things, make the right reads. Play more control in the half court. I’m grateful, I’m blessed. I have no complaints at all.

How does it feel to be back with the Phoenix Mercury?

I’m really excited. Anytime you get to play with Diana Taurasi, it’s anyone’s dream come true. It’s like Kobe [Bryant]. It’s a blessing to be back in the league and to play for good coaches like Sandy [Brondello] and Julie [Hairgrove] and now that Penny [Taylor] is moving over to player development. I’m just excited and blessed for the opportunity. Whatever they call my number. Whether it’s five minutes, zero minutes, if it’s just to cheer, I am excited to do that because chemistry is what wins championships. I experienced that in 2014. So I’m just excited to be part of it.

With so many new faces on the team, is there anyone specifically you’re looking forward to working with?

I’m excited to play with Danielle Robinson. D-Rob has just been killing the league. She’s a great player. She gets her teammates open. She can score at will, but she’s able to make the pass because she draws so much attention. I’ve also been a big fan of Leilani Mitchell. I saw her in Utah back in college. Just excited to play with her. Those are two players I really respect and played against throughout my career. I’m really excited for the new faces too. [Stephanie Talbot] is great. Cayla George coming in. Camille Little has been a legend forever too. So there’s a great group of people and I can’t forget about my girl [Brittney Griner].

With the championship experience that you have, what do you foresee your role being on the team?

I think definitely bringing energy and staying positive because basketball is not a job, it’s a game. You should enjoy it. So if I could just be a light to my teammates, to the crowd, to the city of Phoenix and just anytime I step on the court show that energy and show that passion of how excited I am just to even wear a jersey or be able to walk, be able to run, then my job is done. Yeah you’re going to make shots, you’re going to not make shots, you’re going to play, you’re not going to play. If I can keep a smile on my face and be positive to all the players on the bench that’s what my goal is. A good locker room player.

It’s early, but what are your expectations for this season?

I think we are definitely going to surprise some teams. Yeah, there’s a lot of new faces. Yeah, there’s chemistry, but I think getting great people, everything else will come easy. I think the most important thing about winning championships and playing well is having great people first. You don’t need a bunch of all-stars. You need people who can score. You need people who can rebound, do the dirty work, fall on the floors. I think the GM’s done a really good job finding those pieces and we can shock some people, surprise them.