The war of words between Atlanta Hawks star Dejounte Murray and Orlando Magic rookie Paolo Banchero can be explained through Instagram.
The NBA offseason has been relatively quiet since Summer League, as fans wait to see if any Kevin Durant, Donovan Mitchell or Jayson Tatum rumors eventually materialize.
The two Seattle natives were playing what was supposed to be a bit of friendly basketball at Isaiah Thomas’ seventh-annual “Zeke-End” pro-am tournament at Tacoma Community College in Washington, but what seemed to be friendly fire turned into personal shots between the two.
Initially, it all seemed to stem from an elbow jab Murray threw into Banchero’s back, after which Murray leapt in the air for a backboard alley-oop.
That could have been written off as on-court competition, but then Murray unfollowed Banchero on Instagram after the game, which Banchero publicized on his Instagram story.
“It must be personal, huh?” Banchero posed to Murray. “That’s fine. Just make sure you guard up next time and stop sending doubles, family,” Banchero continued with a laughing emoji.
Murray then replied on his Instagram story, clarifying that his beef with Banchero went far beyond a local pro-am game. The two have known each other for years — Banchero used to ask to rebound for Murray, according to the Hawks guard — and Murray doesn’t like how fame has changed Banchero.
“You made it and changed and I lost all respect!” Murray said.
“Stay humble. This life you in now is real and ain’t no joke!” Murray continued. “I still wanna see you win ’cause that’s who I am!”
Paolo Banchero vs Dejounte Murray NBA Instagram beef, explained
Whether it’s done by fandom or philosophy, NBA fans have already taken sides. There’s the idea that Murray has that rookie arrogance needs to be checked at the door when entering the league, and it’s not unreasonable to imagine that a No. 1 pick might think highly of himself.
But there’s also the nature in which Murray delivered his message about humility. Rather than privately speaking to Banchero, Murray made sure everyone else knew how he felt about the former Duke star. Murray not only shoved him for a dunk, but he loudly blared his thoughts on Banchero during the game after Murray failed to block him.
“That’s who y’all came to see?” Murray asked the crowd. “That’s who they came to see? It’s a man’s league; he a little boy.”
“He’s too soft,” Murray repeated several times.
Further context adds evidence to the fact that Murray was very much the one with a problem, as Banchero seems completely oblivious to his anger before the Instagram unfollow. Another clip shows Banchero bodying Murray on defense, sending him to the floor. Banchero didn’t seem to realize how angry Murray was until Murray checked him, and Banchero just hugged him in response.
Although few know what really built this animosity between Murray and Banchero, it’s clear that Banchero thought nothing of their physical game while Murray had an axe to grind.
Sadly, this may have ruined a friendship between two Seattle natives, but it does ramp up a rivalry between the Atlanta Hawks and Orlando Magic that is sure to be entertaining in the coming season.