Grizzlies: Ja Morant’s reckless behavior could jeopardize his career

Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

Two years ago, the Memphis Grizzlies were the lovable, scrappy underdogs with the bravado of a team that had accomplished big wins in their sporting careers. A real fake it until you make it story Jump to the 2022–23 NBA season, and the talented team, led by Ja Morant, has become an unlikable mouthy bunch.

Naturally, feelings shift depending on how players and teams are perceived. It is usually an ebb and flow based on wins and losses. But not in such a clearcut way. Meaning sometimes too much praise can gear the sentiment towards hate while the professed villains end up soaking in the love.

This season, the Grizzlies chose to focus on the latter, which backfired.

They went from simply playing hard to a team whose shenanigans began to overshadow their talent. The on-court nonsense was disguised as the new grit and grind. So much so that national television saw them toe the line with a retired NFL player right before a game’s halftime. Which was all courtside and partially tied to a Morant.

The characters around Ja Morant fail to realize that they are actively contributing to putting his career’s story in danger.

As the dust-up with Shannon Sharpe played out, it was the antics of Morant’s father, Tee Morant, that escalated things as he approached the former tight end. Five games later, the elder Morant and players from the Indiana Pacers engaged in a chirping match that led to tension beyond the court.

For Tee, he seems to revel in the NBA lifestyle of trash-talking and hugging afterward. Presumably knowing that his interactions are not serious enough to go further. However, in certain cases, the reactions to his instigations seem to leave his son and others as late recipients of that memo.

This is how you end up with Morant’s friend being banned and escorted out of an arena for walking on the floor to engage with the Pacers and later, allegedly, trying to intimidate their traveling party in the loading area.

Both father and friend should know better. If not, the younger Morant should realize that he worked too hard to place his career in anyone’s crosshairs. Instead, neither side seems to support the other’s actions and that could be detrimental.

This has resulted in a litany of allegations against the young point guard, ranging from assault to threats with guns to being in cars displaying red beams at buses. Add online menacing messages and flashing a gun in the club, on Instagram live, and it is obvious why he is taking time away from the team.

Fortunately for Morant, this is not David Stern’s NBA, and, on the surface, it looks like he is being granted the grace to atone for his mistakes. In sports, individuals are only given so many opportunities to make them before the powers that be find the opening they need to push them out of the league.

Especially when constant excuses tend to override accountability. As had been the case for Morant until releasing a statement taking responsibility for his latest action. Followed by coach Taylor Jenkins acknowledging that, “[Morant] understands he’s made some difficult decisions and poor choices in the past that he’s got to account for.”

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Call it a step in the right direction. But, hopefully, the next few involve surrounding himself with those unwilling to feed his downfall. Or Morant’s basketball story will have an unfortunate ending.