Paolo Banchero, top pick in the 2022 draft, has enjoyed a smooth transition into the NBA. The Orlando Magic big man flaunted every offensive skill in Summer League, relished some fellas time on a rooftop with No. 2 pick Chet Holmgren, and has stayed active on the pro-am circuit ahead of his rookie season. He’s even qualified as an outright prodigy by at least one advanced metric: beef-having. Before even played a single minute of NBA preseason, Banchero has acquired beef with veteran Dejounte Murray, who has yet to play a single minute for his own new team, the Atlanta Hawks.
Murray and Banchero, both Seattle natives, took part in Isaiah Thomas’s pro-am game in Tacoma over the weekend. One would think the atmosphere would stay pretty light, considering that this game takes place in a community college gym, merges skilled amateurs with some of the best athletes alive, and also that Murray himself said its purpose is “So These Kids And People Who Can’t Afford To See Us Be Able To See Us For FREE!!!” This is not exactly the crackling, superheated air of the conference finals. To generate beef here is to make wine of water. But it is exactly what Murray accomplished. Apparently all it took was one chippy play to get him going.
He styled on Banchero with this play that, from at least one angle, also looks like an attempted trip:
He talked a head-scratching amount of trash on his way out of the game:
And he took the beef to the digital realm afterwards, unfollowing Banchero on Instagram and issuing the following threat-slash-benediction:
Murray, a potent poster who Generally Operates In Title Case At All Times, specializes in heartwarming and wholesome motivational fare. But NBA writer Tom Ziller, who has documented Murray’s troubling recent history of bopping and booping lesser rivals, speculates that Murray is hungry for attention after six years on the deliberately attention-proof San Antonio Spurs. If he’s right, Atlanta’s backcourt is now 100 percent heel.
Banchero was game to meet Murray on the digital battlefield, though his attempt to keep the beef sizzling lacked some of the verve present in Murray’s messages:
Hey, he’s a rookie. His trash-talking is as much a work in progress as his defense.
Update (Aug. 9, 4:15 p.m. ET): A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that this beef originated at Jamal Crawford’s “The CrawsOver” pro-am in Seattle. It originated at Isaiah Thomas’s “Zeke-End” pro-am in Tacoma.