The prelude for this one happened two months before the actual game in Oakland, on December 11th, 1997, in the Wizards team hotel in Charlotte, before the game with the Hornets.
The certain women from L.A. taped the telephone conversation with Tracy Murray in which Wizards small forward got mad at Strickland for not passing him the ball enough. Then, the same woman went to Strickland with the same tape and played it over and over again!
The result? The fight escalated between Strickland and Murray, which later, they both tried hard not to address.
But, only two months later, on February 10th, 1998, when the Wizards faced the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, the two obviously got over it and played together like this has never really happened!
That night, Wizards were without the frontcourt anchors Chris Webber and Juwan Howard, who were on the injury list, which heated up Warriors hopes that they could grab one of those rare Ws and improve a dismal 8-38 record.
But from the first possession, it was all Strickland. He sure did have some big shoes to fill in, but he did it!
Washington’s 6’3” point guard controlled the ball and the tempo of the game all along the way, leading the Wizards to a memorable 12-point road W. He finished the game with a rare triple-double – 21 points to go along with career-highs of 12 boards and 20 dimes!
That night he did everything his team needed to win the tough game on the road while providing the critics the solid proof why he should have been voted to the 1998 NBA All-Star game.
The primary beneficiary of his passes was Wizards #35 – Tracy Murray.
With Strickland directing the offense and setting up the shots, Wizards small forward was red hot, hitting 18-29 shots from the floor, including 5-10 beyond the three-point arc and 9-10 from the charity stripe for a career-high – 50 points! His previous season-high of 26 points was history already at the intermission.
In his first start of the 1997-98 season, Glendora High and UCLA standout thus shut up all of his critics and provided the solid piece of evidence why he should be considered one of the best shooters in the NBA.
“It was a time I finally got a chance to play my game with no restrictions. It reminded me of high school again when I averaged forty-four points a game. The team was short-handed, lots of injuries and we needed some wins. We won the game also which made it sweeter.” – Tracy Murray
That season the Wizards point guard Rod Strickland enjoyed his most productive NBA season – he led the League with 10.5 dimes per game, leaving behind the likes of Jason Kidd and Mark Jackson.
Murray A. a.k.a. Marjan Crnogaj is a BN contributor and the co-author of the Amazon.com TOP 100 basketball biography ‘Drazen – The Years of the Dragon’ (‘Drazen – Godine Zmaja’) which reveals the yet untold details from the life and career of the legendary NBA shooting guard Drazen Petrovic. He resides in Zagreb, Croatia, currently working on his third book which tells the untold story of the 1989 Green Card Five.