Where to watch Kitchener's Jamal Murray play in NBA Finals
Kitchener is transforming into Nuggets nation.
The city is hosting a series of watch parties to cheer on basketball star Jamal Murray as his Denver Nuggets take on the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.
The Nuggets lead the Heat 2-1 in the best of seven series, with Murray scoring 34 points in the game three win.
When asked about his hometown watch parties during a May 30th press conference, Murray smiled and pumped his fist in the air.
"I've had a lot of friends text me about the watch parties or them just gathering around," he said. "The support's been crazy back home. That means a lot, especially from a small town like Kitchener."
Murray added that he can’t wait to return home.
"Just excited for that town, I'll be back there in the summer to see all my friends and family," he said. "No one from Kitchener has ever made it this far, so it's nice to be a pioneer in that sense."
GAME ONE WATCH PARTY
Bobby O’Brien’s at 125 King Street West
The game one party on Thursday was hosted by Bobby O'Brien's in downtown Kitchener. Fans could sit on the patio or bring a lawn chair to watch the broadcast in the courtyard.
The live entertainment started at 7 p.m. before the game got underway at 8:30 p.m.
"An event like this is so important for the downtown," said Kitchener mayor Berry Vrbanovic. "It brings the community together, it gives us a sense of belonging, it supports local businesses, but most importantly we're Nuggets nation north and we're supporting a hometown basketball hero Jamal Murray."
The Nuggets got out to an early lead over the Heat and wouldn't look back.
Murray finished with 26 points as Denver won 104-93.
Morag Webster stands in front of her chalk drawing of Jamal Murray in downtown Kitchener. (June 1, 2023)
Waterloo artist Morag Webster also paid tribute to Murray on King Street, creating a chalk drawing of the basketball star on the road.
"I think people need good role models," she told CTV News. "There's so much ugliness in the world. It's nice to celebrate goodness and achievement."
Webster said it took six hours to draw Murray's likeness.
"Certainly a lot of fun and I love celebrating a Kitchener kid!"
A section of King Street West in front of Bobby O’Brien’s was closed to traffic beginning at 1 p.m.
Morag Webster's chalk drawing of Jamal Murray in Kitchener. (June 1, 2023)
GAME TWO WATCH PARTY
Game two was also shown at Bobby O'Brien's on Sunday, June 4.
Many gathered again to watch Murray perform, but didn't quite get the result they were looking for.
While the Kitchener native had a massive dunk in the first half, he only ended up with 18 points, and missed a potential game-tying three late in the game.
The Nuggets lost the game 111-108.
GAME THREE WATCH PARTY
The party moved to the Stanley Park Community Centre for game three on Wednesday, June 7, Murray's old stomping grounds.
The Kitchener native bounced back from his game two performance and put up a 34-point triple double in the 109-94 victory.
"Just amazing," one fan said. "It inspires all the kids in K-W to get out on the court and do things for the community. It's a really special event."
Fans were able to watch it all on the projector set up in the community centre's parking lot.
"A person from Kitchener made it to the NBA? It's crazy," another fan said. "It means I have a chance to make it too. I think Jamal's going to win in five.
"He inspires me a lot."
Food trucks, live music, a bouncy castle, and members of the KW Titans were all out for the game. A signed basketball was auctioned off, while DoorDash offered free nuggets to the crowd.
"Having Jamal bring back that spirit of basketball to Kitchener, it's a great feeling knowing there are people out there who love the spirit of basketball in Kitchener," another fan said. "I have full faith in Jamal Murray. He's always been a great overall player. His shot's always going in.
"Jamal Murray's going to come up clutch and bring home his first championship."
Fans watch Jamal Murray at Stanley Park Community Centre. (June 7, 2023)
GAMES FOUR, FIVE, SIX AND SEVEN
Bobby O’Brien’s at 125 King Street West
Game four: Friday, June 9, 8:30 p.m.
Game five: Monday, June 12, 8:30 p.m.
Nuggets Nation North is returning to Bobby O'Brien's in downtown Kitchener for games four to seven. Watch the party from the restaurant's patio or bring a chair and join the party from the courtyard.
Carl Zehr Square will also be lit up in blue and gold, the colour of the Denver Nuggets, on game nights.
FORMER TEAM REACTS
Before he was playing pro, Murray honed his skills on the hardwood at Grand River Collegiate Institute (GRCI) in Kitchener.
“He came in here in ninth grade, probably our best player right at the beginning of the year,” said his former head coach at GRCI for two years, Tolly Henderson.
Henderson said he believes in Murray and thinks the Nuggets will win the NBA finals.
“I think it’s going to happen. He wants to get his first championship, and I say ‘first’ because his goal is going to be getting multiple,” Henderson told CTV News.
Murray lead the team to a junior boys championship in 2012 and the team photo is still posted outside the school’s gym.
“It’s like inspiring knowing that anyone can do it as long as you put the work in,” said Quin Winter, a GRCI point guard.
“The school has a little legacy from him,” said GRCI forward Kareem Aljaibat. “We’ve never had an NBA player win a championship and I think it would mean a lot.”
-- With reporting by CTV Kitchener's Tyler Kelaher and Tegan Versolatto
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