Considered a tweener when the Warriors drafted him out of Notre
Dame in 2001, 6'11" Troy Murphy thrived at power forward last
year. Here are his not-so-easy steps for emulating Karl Malone:
1. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR WEAKNESS After averaging 5.9 points and 3.9
rebounds as a 228-pound rookie, Murphy realized he needed to get
bigger and stronger. So in the summer of 2002 Golden State
strength and conditioning coach Mark Grabow put him on a weekday
program of weightlifting each morning, basketball skills in the
afternoon and two nights of interval sprinting. "It was so
intense the first week that after lifting I couldn't raise my
arms to put shampoo on my head," Murphy says. Yet he returned
every day. "He would throw up," says Grabow, "and five seconds
later he'd be back on the court as if nothing had happened."
2. LISTEN TO TALK RADIO "I'd turn it on in June and hear people
say that we're terrible, or that I wasn't going to play in my
second year after I hardly played as a rookie," says Murphy. "I
loved it. It got me fired up."
3. ASSERT YOURSELF Having packed on 17 pounds of muscle before
the start of his second season, Murphy barged into the paint
seeking revenge on all the hulks who'd pushed him around. "The
first month he got banged up pretty good," Grabow says. "He
played one night with a slight concussion." But Murphy proved to
have remarkable staying power, starting 79 games and joining Tim
Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O'Neal and Brian Grant as the
only players to average a double double (11.7 points and 10.2
rebounds) last season.
4. MAINTAIN YOUR INTENSITY Murphy was also the only player to
improve both his scoring and rebounding averages by at least 5.0
per game from the previous year. That's because he learned to
stay focused on his conditioning and performance. Every day he
ate five or six meals that are high in protein and carbohydrates,
abstaining from fast food and ice cream. He also watched film
with the assistant coaches to study tendencies, rested on game
days and was the first Warrior at the arena.
5. ACCEPT NEW CHALLENGES In his 15 years with Golden State,
Grabow ranks Murphy and the maniacal Chris Mullin (now a special
assistant in the front office) as his two hardest workers.
Realizing that Murphy has a chance to become a special player,
coach Eric Musselman asked him last summer to work on extending
his shooting range beyond 17 feet. Murphy began shooting 200 to
300 treys daily, and before training camp he was knocking down 43
of 50 in drills. "I think he can show as much improvement this
year as he showed last year," says Musselman, who envisions
Murphy--a No. 14 pick who was expected to be little more than a
solid backup--as a dominating player.
6. NEVER BE SATISFIED Though he has exceeded expectations in all
areas, Murphy believes he is only starting to realize his
potential. "I'm faster, I'm bigger and my skills are better,"
says Murphy, who weighs 248 this year. "But I'm sure I'll realize
things that I need to improve on. Then next summer I'll get to
work on them." --Ian Thomsen
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN BURGESS (MURPHY)