Tips From The Top: One On One With Troy Murphy

I spoke to former NBA veteran turned entrepreneur Troy Murphy about his journey and best advice

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Adam: Thanks again for taking the time to share your story and what you have learned from your journey to date. First things first, though, what is something about you that your fans don’t know?

Troy: I’m not a big fan of airplane turbulence. When I played in the NBA, I used to sit up in the cockpit with the pilots on the team flights. I’d drive them crazy with all my different questions, but it helped me get through the flight as we were jostled around in the sky. Now, I map my travel pans around getting the smoothest ride possible.

Adam: How did you get here?

Troy: A combination of two things. First, I’ve had tremendous encouragement and support from the people around me in my life. Second, I’m interested in becoming the best version of myself. I try to seek out opportunities that scare me as well and have the potential to help me grow. I then pursue them as ardently and fully as possible.  

Adam: What failures, setbacks or challenges have been most instrumental to your development and success?

Troy: I always wanted to play close to where I grew up in New Jersey for either the Knicks or the Nets. At the end of my career I got that chance and it was a disaster. At the time it was tough to go through, but it forced me to become stronger and reinvent myself in a way that I never imagined possible at that time.

Adam: In your experience, other than natural talent, what are the defining qualities of a superstar athlete?

Troy: Perseverance. I think it comes down to the way you approach challenges. You see them as an opportunity to improve rather than a barrier for success. Athletes know that you don’t learn from success, you learn from failing and then getting back up.

Adam: What players and coaches have you learned the most from? What did you learn from them?

Troy: I learned the most from Chris Mullin who was the General Manager for the Warriors when I played there. He took the time to teach me how to develop my game and become a professional. His contribution was not only limited to basketball advice, as he also was someone I could talk to about things away from basketball which for a young guy a long way from home was tremendous.  

Adam: Who are the greatest leaders you have played with and what do you believe are the defining qualities of a great leader?

Troy: Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics. He had extremely high motor and intensity level. This forced not only his teammates, but also the coaching staff and other members of the Celtics organizations to raise their levels. The best part was that he walked the walk and held himself accountable, which gave him even greater currency as a leader.  

Adam: Who is the best teammate you ever had and why?

Troy: I’ve had a number of great ones. If I had to choose, it would be Mike Dunleavy. I played with him for 8 years on two teams. Playing with the same person for that long is highly unlikely in the NBA, and you go through similar experiences together.   

Adam: What are the characteristics of a great teammate?

Troy: The characteristics of a great teammate are built around trust. In basketball you have to work as a unit and trust that your teammate is going to follow the game plan, be in the right position, and have your back. It also helps that your teammates are good people. You spend so much time throughout the season with them on buses, planes, practicing, and playing that if you’re around some questionable characters, it makes the time spent that much more difficult.  

Adam: What are the best lessons you have learned through your career in sports that are applicable to those of us who will never earn a living playing pro ball?

Troy: How to learn from your mistakes. The players in the NBA are so good that everyone gets humbled on occasion. What separates the players who last from the ones who don’t is the ability to understand why a specific performance didn’t go well and then make the necessary adjustments. This lesson carries over into life as you can quickly identify things that aren’t optimally working and then make the changes.  

Adam: What is the most surprising thing about life in professional sports? What is something that would shock fans?

Troy: How good the players are. Every time I watch professional sports I marvel at the difficult maneuvers the players make and how they look effortless. It doesn’t matter if I’m watching golf, tennis, football, or basketball, the things professional athletes are doing on a regular basis are truly amazing.

Adam: What is the single best piece of advice you have ever received?

Troy: No one is going to care about your money as much as you do. Learned it from a brilliant financial mind out in Colorado Springs named Allan Roth. Simple, straightforward, and 100% accurate.

Adam: What is one thing everyone should be doing to pay it forward?

Troy: Practicing gratitude. No one has gotten to where they are on their own. There is always someone who has propped you up on their shoulders in order for you to succeed. I think we should acknowledge this and thank them instead of thinking that we get to where we do strictly on our own efforts and abilities.  

Adam: What are your hobbies and how have they shaped you?

Troy: I love to travel and try to spend a couple months a year outside the country trying to explore new cultures. I spent the end of last year in Florence, Italy, and really enjoyed my experience. Apart from the delicious food and beautiful landscapes in Tuscany, walking down the narrow Florentine streets that have witnessed generation after generation of people creating some of the most beautiful art in history was highly inspirational.

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