One of the observations that persists among people who watch Ja Morant play is, “Oh my god, he’s going to break his hip if he keeps going to the rim like that.” It’s hard for normal people to understand how someone is not only that fast and explosive, but that coordinated. Morant attempts stuff not even NBA defenses think is possible. It’s a lot like how Jedis are able to pod race but regular human beings would die within 10 seconds of the green light.
Now that feeling of impending doom has started creeping in with Morant off the court. He had a buddy kicked out of a game for arguing with Pacers players, and in the parking garage afterward, there was a report about lasers being pointed at the Indiana bus. The NBA looked into it and found nothing happened.
On Wednesday, the Washington Post released details of an incident where he’s accused of punching a teenager several times in the head and flashing a gun. Morant’s agent refuted the Post’s findings, and at the time Ja filed a report that his family was threatened.
Crime or not, why was Morant playing against a teenager in the first place? Unless it was some pro prospect, what’s the point?
There also was an alleged incident at a mall where Ja and a bunch of his friends showed up at a shoe store after his mom got into a dispute with one of the clerks. Security was called, and Ja allegedly threatened one of the guards. No arrests were made.
Morant’s agent Jim Tanner said, “unsubstantiated rumors and gossip are being put out by people motivated to tear Ja down and tarnish his reputation for their own financial gain.”
“Any and every allegation involving a firearm has been fully investigated and could not be corroborated. This includes the NBA investigation last month, in which they found no evidence,” Tanner said. The situation with the teenage boy was “purely self-defense. Again, after this was fully investigated by law enforcement, they came to the decision not to charge Ja with any crime.”
I don’t pretend to know Morant or what he does off the court, but Chris Vernon, who covers the team and is always candid, said on a recent podcast that he is 100 percent concerned about some of the people in Morant’s inner circle.
It was bizarre that the Grizzlies and Shannon Sharpe got into a screaming match in the middle of a Lakers game. Yet it was even more baffling that one of Morant’s friends saw that, and replicated it a few days later, getting himself banned from the arena in the process. That behavior (Sharpe included) is consistent with a lot of people in their early 20s. Who among us didn’t have a friend who loved to talk shit and fight at bars and house parties at that age? However, most of us are just some asshole, and not one of the most talented players in the NBA with a shit load to lose or one of his buddies.
My guess is most pro athletes are used to physical altercations. If it happens at work, it’s an everyday thing. The overwhelming response from former NFL players when teammates get into it during training camp is the nothing-to-see-here GIF.
That said, those are all physical specimens who can take a charge or get form tackled and get back up. Ninety-nine percent of the population would die if we stepped in front of LeBron James or met a linebacker in the hole.
And that’s what I’m getting at. Accidents can happen, man. It doesn’t take much. Also, and I feel like this goes without saying, but don’t play with guns. It’s colossally stupid, and all they do is invite trouble.
I love that Ja is aggressive whenever he steps on a basketball court. He’s more athletic than peak Derrick Rose, which doesn’t seem possible, and views opposing centers as props for future posters. Let’s leave it on the floor though.