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Jrue, A Holiday we can all celebrate

Marshall is a Wisconsin realtor and mentor who coaches inner city youth who may not have the access to play otherwise.

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The Most Inspiring Holiday

“I’m a Buck for life!”

Those were Jrue Holiday’s first words after signing his 5-year extension with the Milwaukee Bucks in April of 2021. I’m not sure how most Bucks die-hards reacted to that news, but I nearly cried tears of joy. Okay, that’s a bit overdramatic, yet some of you will still relate. If you can’t, it’s simply because you don’t know about Jrue Holiday. He’s a 3-time All-Defensive player and former All-Star who’s averaged 16 PPG and 6 APG over twelve years in the NBA. I get it though. It’s easy to overlook him. He doesn’t have the flashiest playstyle. Most people haven’t checked for him since his high school days as a McDonald’s All American back in 2008 where he was ranked as the #2 recruit at his position. That game featured future NBA stars like Demar Derozan, Kemba Walker, Tyreke Evans, Brandon Jennings, Greg Monroe, Iman Shumpert and even more. It was played right here in Milwaukee at the Bradley Center. Jrue’s team lost but he still put up a respectable stat line of 14 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists on 6/9 shooting. 2008 was also the first year that a skills challenge was incorporated into the competition. Holiday is the first to ever win it. Jrue committed to his hometown UCLA to got to college. He played just one year and held averages of only 8.5 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.7 APG, 45 FG%, 31 3PT%, and 73 FT%. Maybe not the best numbers, but he still decided to bet on himself and entered his name into the NBA Draft. He was selected 17th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in 2009.

In Philly, Holiday was a part of some very memorable playoff runs and was quickly able to grow himself into an All-Star before being traded in 2013 to New Orleans where he spent seven seasons. There he developed his game and molded himself into one of the toughest defenders in the league. Still, Jrue faded from the NBA spotlight and never made another All-Star team with the Pelicans, despite having gradually better seasons. He was quietly becoming underrated. This was in part because the team was just bad. They were never put on a big stage and he was never truly given a chance to show his game to the world. They didn’t make the playoffs but twice in his time with Anthony Davis in New Orleans. They ran into a buzzsaw most people called the Golden State Warriors both times. He did have one non-Golden State series however in 2018. It was a sweep against the Portland Trailblazers and it came in the most dominate fashion. Most people think of Anthony Davis carrying that team and Rondo’s exceptional defense on Damian Lillard. Those people didn’t watch the games. It was Jrue who was the main point of attack on defense, and he was far nearly as unstoppable as AD. He put up insane averages of 27.5 PPG, 4 RPG, and 6.5 APG. It still seemed like no one noticed. Eventually he was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks and the rest is now history. He’s in the record books as an NBA Champion. He was able to show the whole world what he can do on both ends of the court and then followed that up immediately with an Olympic gold medal.

As amazing as his journey has been on the court, it doesn’t tell half the story of Jrue Holiday. It doesn’t tell you just how great of a person he really is. For example, in the 2019–2020 season, Jrue won the NBA’s Teammate of the Year award, yet his team traded him just a few months later. From the outside looking in, you could easily say maybe there was something wrong there. It’s more about the things he does behind the scenes and the work he does through his foundation, the JLH Fund. In July of 2020, during the NBA Bubble, he donated his remaining salary ($5 million in total) to various community serving organizations to help combat social injustice. It’s not about the money with Jrue however. There are simply certain stories numbers can’t tell. His impact is felt more from his character. You see it in the respect he garners from his colleagues and the stories they tell about him. Before the 2016–2017 season, Holiday and his wife Lauren, the 2013 National Women’s Soccer League MVP, were expecting their first child together. He was obviously devastated when he found out Lauren had a tumor growing on her brain. Doctors refused to operate on her until after she had given birth and it was too soon to safely induce labor. They were in an impossible situation. Jrue had no choice but to step up and so he did. Luckily, his child was born with no complications and his wife had a successful surgery. He missed the first 12 games of the season that year taking care of his wife and child. He would be the first to tell you “my wife means more to me than basketball”. A position I believe should be applauded and yet another reason why Jrue may just be the most inspiring Holiday.

To be clear this is not a shot at his brothers Aaron and Justin Holiday, the latter being an NBA Champion in his own right.

Career Highs:

21.2 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 8.0 APG, 1.6 SPG, 0.8 BPG, 85% FT, 39% 3PT, 50% FG

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