Calvin Murphy feels most at home on a basketball court and working with children. It’s part of who he is, and it was all in jeopardy eight years ago when he went through the most difficult time of his life.
“I wouldn’t wish what I went through on anybody, my worst enemy,” Murphy says. “What it did for me is showed me who I really am and I’m not talking about the Hall of Fame basketball player, but me as a man.”
The 5-foot-9 basketball legend (the shortest player inducted into the Hall of Fame), former Houston Rockets star player and commentator was sidelined by charges from four of his five daughters. They accused him of something unimaginable . . . molesting them.
“You know what they say — there are a lot of innocent people in jail. . . I would have been in jail for the rest of my life."
Eight months later a jury acquitted Murphy of all charges, but things would never quite be the same.
“I just can’t begin to tell you what you go through every day when you sit in a courtroom for 31 days and you hear these horrible, horrible accusations,” Murphy continues. “I’ve forgiven. I haven’t forgotten. In all honesty, I’m still afraid of them.”
Thankfully, the story didn’t end there. Eight years to the day after this nightmare began, Murphy got some good news. Rockets owner Leslie Alexander and team president Tad Brown invited him to dinner. What happened next was a complete surprise.
“So when the Rockets gave me that call March 23rd, and asked me to come and meet with them and they talked about me coming back to the organization," Murphy says. "You know I’m sitting there and I’m looking behind me and saying, 'Are they talking to me?'
“So many people have asked me my feelings toward the Rockets long before they rehired me. I make this statement. We — the Murphy family — brought this problem to the Rockets. The Rockets didn’t bring it to us. They had no alternative but to separate themselves from me.
"I’ve gotten to know Les better in the short time since we’ve been talking since March than I did in the 14 years that I worked for him. And when Les said, “Welcome back home” it doesn’t get any better than that!"
In a few weeks we’ll see the very colorful Calvin Murphy, in his signature suits, again on the Rockets broadcast. This time he’ll be in a new role and he couldn’t be more excited. Murphy will host the pregame, halftime and postgame shows. He looks forward to talking basketball and adding his flavor to the new broadcasts. But that first time back will definitely be emotional.
“I feel like my rookie year, getting ready to go, and my first day into rookie camp," Murphy says. "I’m nervous. I’m apprehensive. I’m excited. I can’t wait for this to happen.”
Murphy says the last eight years have definitely been a journey. Being acquitted and maintaining his freedom were the most important things. However, having an opportunity to be part of the Rockets organization again and be on the broadcast team is more than he ever imagined. He says the Rockets hiring him back puts a period at the end of the saga and now he can move on.
And he’s certainly not taking any of this lightly.
“I feel like my rookie year, getting ready to go, and my first day into rookie camp. I’m nervous. I’m apprehensive. I’m excited."
“You know what they say — there are a lot of innocent people in jail," Murphy says. "I thought about those charges and I thought about the penalty that went with them. I would have been in jail for the rest of my life.
"Oh no question, I thought about my freedom.”
In the midst of his excitement Murphy's also very grateful. He says he’s blessed and knows the Lord didn’t bring him full circle just to be on the Rockets’ sidelines.
“He wants me to do something with this gift he’s given me back of being able to communicate, being able to deal with youngsters, being able to deal with as they say, the troubled child, all the way to the Phi Beta Kappa,” he says.
Murphy has a lot to say and looks forward to using his gift to help inspire and encourage others. For now . . . he’s excited to talk basketball and restart a part of his life he thought was over.
Kim Davis is a seasoned journalist with nearly two decades of experience covering sports, news and politics in television, radio and print. She’s a talk show host, keynote speaker, media coach, entrepreneur and health and fitness enthusiast. If you have questions or comments for Kim or about “Chalk Talk”, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.