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Memphis blues: Grizzlies edition

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MARCH 10, 2023

It wasn’t long ago when Ja Morant was  known solely for his sheer talent on the hardwood, but it’s been a downward spiral for the young star this season. Morant was an inspiration to the underdogs emerging from mid-major athletic programs. Who could’ve imagined a Murray State guard taking the NBA by storm and becoming the 2019 NBA draft second overall pick? 

The point guard was an innovative splash of athletic talent that the league had lacked since the likes of prime Derrick Rose and Vince Carter. Morant had the potential to become one of the next NBA stars that young hoopers could look up to. 

Now he’s in the news for flashing firearms on Instagram Live and allegedly beating up a 17-year-old boy and threatening a mall security guard in a separate incident in 2022. 

I also didn’t mention Morant’s earlier incident with the Indiana Pacers this season, when a vehicle carrying Morant allegedly pointed a red laser at members of the Pacers’ team. Why is an elite professional athlete who makes millions of dollars risking his career with alleged threats and criminal activity? 

The NBA has begun investigating Morant and the listed accusations against him. Morant has also stepped away from the Grizzlies to “get help and work on learning better methods of dealing with stress and my overall well-being,” as he wrote in a statement.

There’s been an overwhelming heap of criticism for Morant from other professional athletes such as NFL Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe. “I wish Ja would realize he’s not a thug. Ja is a really good basketball player. Ja did everything he could to lift himself and his family out of this environment and to get away from this,” Sharpe said.

Morant’s abilities on the court have brought the Grizzlies back to potential playoff contention, not to mention they’re one of the best teams in basketball this season, currently sitting at a stable third seed in the turbulent Western conference. Since Memphis drafted the young star, the Grizzlies have been in the playoffs for two of the last three seasons. 

There are few young stars better than Morant on an individual level — he hasn’t left any stones unturned since entering the league. He’s won the 2019-2020 Rookie of the Year, 2021-2022 Most Improved Player of the Year and has earned a few All-Star appearances. 

The Grizzlies have also been one of the best villain stories in basketball the last two seasons — they remind me of a bootleg version of the “Bad Boy” Pistons. From Morant’s played-out griddy dances to the Grizzlies beefing with Shannon Sharpe mid-game against the Lakers, the NBA is more intriguing with the boys from Memphis. 

The Grizzlies as of late have been reminiscent of the “Grit and Grind” mentality that the city of Memphis embodies. Who could forget Warriors forward Draymond Green enjoying the rowdy environment and the chants of “whoop that trick” when his team faced the Grizzlies in Memphis during last year’s playoffs? 

 Morant and his crew make basketball better with their on-the-court antics and skill, but still, there’s no excuse for off-the-court troubles. 

All I have to say is if Morant doesn’t get his act together, I might have to retire my Morant NBA Jam T-shirt that I purchased two years ago. Needless to say, Morant is an undeniable talent, but his talents will only go so far as long as he’s causing trouble off the court. 

Contact Matthew Corey Flores at 


MARCH 10, 2023