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Paul Murphy Shirley (born December 23, 1977) is an American professional basketball player, currently playing for Unicaja Málaga of the Spanish ACB. He is also a writer, with his primary focus on his basketball experiences.

Shirley is noted for briefly maintaining an online journal while playing for the Phoenix Suns in 2004-05. His first journal dealt with a several-day-long road trip, while the second chronicled the Suns' NBA Playoffs run. After their playoff elimination, the Suns did not re-sign him, as he rarely played in his twelfth man position. He is the author of a blog for entitled "My So-Called Career". As of July 2008, it contained 56 column-length entries.

Shirley was signed to a non-guaranteed contract by the Minnesota Timberwolves in early October, but was cut in training camp before the start of the 2006-07 season. On an chat on October 23, Shirley referenced the $10 million, 5-year contract of Mark Madsen as the reason why he was released.

Writing career

Shirley's first two blogs are witty, literate, frank, and sometimes sarcastic observations on players, teams, fans, cities, sports media, cheerleaders, the game of basketball, and topics outside the athletic sphere. There are topics such as the USA Patriot Act, which he condemned as "[putting] the US on a fast-track to an Orwellian destiny". His writing garnered attention from national sports media, as well as other outlets such as Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, and the British Broadcasting Corporation.

In ESPN blog entries #21 and #22, Shirley revealed that he was working on a pilot episode of a television show based on his experiences in the NBA. Later blogs stated that the sitcom (working title: The Twelfth Man) was not picked up for the fall but will be shopped at other networks.

Shirley's first book, entitled Can I Keep My Jersey?, was released on May 15, 2007 from Random House. A paperback version of the book was released on December 26, 2007.

Personal history

Shirley was born in Redwood City, Californiamarker and grew up near the small town of Meriden, Kansasmarker. He played high school basketball at Jefferson West High School, where he scored a 35 on his ACT. He went to Iowa State Universitymarker on a National Merit academic scholarship, majoring in mechanical engineering.

Shirley worked his way from walk-on to three-year starter for the Cyclones basketball team. He was coached first by Tim Floyd until he left the Cyclones to become the head coach of the Chicago Bulls and then by Larry Eustachy. His notable teammates included future NBA players Jamaal Tinsley and Marcus Fizer. The Cyclones progressed to the Elite 8 of the NCAA basketball tournament his junior season. In his college career, he earned three Academic All-Big 12 selections and, in his senior season, was named second-team Academic All-American.

Since graduating, the 6'10" Shirley has played power forward for thirteen different professional teams including: the NBA teams the Phoenix Suns, Atlanta Hawks, and the Chicago Bulls, as well as Panionios Athens of the Greek A1 League, Joventut Badalona, ViveMenorca, and Unicaja Málaga of the Spanish ACB League, and UNICS Kazan of the Russian Super League.

Shirley wore #45 for the Bulls and Hawks and #17 for the Suns.

He has three brothers who used to live in the Johnson County, Kansas City area, Shirley's off-season home.

He appeared in the film Glory Road (#50 for Iowa, uncredited).


  1. [1] ESPN Search Paul Shirley. Accessed May 5, 2007.
  2. [2] Chat with Paul Shirley Number 13328. Accessed May 5, 2007.
  3. [3] Suns: Paul Shirley's Blog May 5, 2007.
  4. [4] Random House Books Can I Keep My Jersey? Hardcover May 5, 2007.
  5. [5] Random House Books Can I Keep My Jersey? Paperback March 2008.
  6. [6] The Internet Movie Database Entry for Paul Shirley. Accessed November 1, 2009.

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