Ja Morant will be back on the court next week at some point. Which is good…maybe? One gets the sense that no one around him is really looking out for him, including his employer. But the NBA has a lot of money invested in him, so they need to rehab his image but do so quickly so he can get back on the court and remind everyone why he’s the future face of the league. Because that’s what the league wanted not so long ago. And it also makes one wonder what exactly went on here.
Morant was away from the Memphis Grizzlies after appearing on Instagram Live from a strip club with a gun. The NBA couldn’t, or wouldn’t, determine if it was his or if he had it on official NBA grounds, and fair enough. Maybe it wasn’t, and it would be hard to prove it was and he had it on the plane or in the locker room without evidence or someone credible saying so. It was an extreme showcase of poor judgment, That we can say for sure. Anything else? What exactly are they saying? Because it sure feels like Morant was suspended for scaring white people.
It was only a couple days after Morant was reportedly receiving counseling in Florida for…something before he was reinstated. But that’s not how counseling works. That takes a lot of time. And now he’s doing interviews on ESPN. And returning to the Grizzlies in a few days. Certainly the matter of his counseling should be kept private, but again, only a couple of days? Was that just lip service? Because it kind of feels like it.
Morant has a big interview with ESPN’s Jalen Rose. Makes sense, Rose had a soliloquy about Morant when his video first went viral, and also faced a similar situation in college when he was caught in something that had the masses horrified but in reality, he was just hanging out somewhere with a friend. Rose, in some ways, is the perfect person to talk to Morant, having been through similar experiences. But when you put it on camera for ESPN, who is in bed with the NBA, it’s hard to take it completely at face value. Was this a partner of the NBA doing a solid for the league and trying to cleanse the image of one of its biggest stars on the quick?
This isn’t to excuse Morant’s behavior or actions in the past year. But he’s hardly the first young person to suddenly be inundated with fame and money and struggle to know how that changes things. He is accused of beating up a teenager at his house. (According to the Washington Post, Morant told police he acted in self-defense. “I swung first,” he told detectives.)
Patrick Kane, around the same age, allegedly beat up an elderly cab driver. (He pleaded not guilty to felony robbery and misdemeanor counts of theft and criminal mischief, but eventually pleaded guilty to a noncriminal charge of disorderly conduct.) People decided to find the latter cute and the indiscretion of a young kid, or at worst fodder for opposing fans but nothing else. Morant’s actions make him an unsavable thug to some. What’s the difference I wonder?
Morant isn’t the first person to keep the wrong company out of loyalty. Most of us will never know, but it must be impossibly hard to come to the realization that you have much more to lose than someone close to you when that person isn’t respecting that fact, especially when you think you’re helping. And it wouldn’t be fair to try and speculate on what the Grizzlies were referring to when they said Morant needed time away to deal with things. But how would any possible answer be dealt with in a manner of days?
Morant is one of many who has to grow up in front of all of us, and for some, that looks very different than what the paying audience for the NBA knows. Remember when Miley Cyrus was annoying everyone years ago? That was something that would usually go on in a dormitory somewhere, but instead, it went on in front of cameras and on social media, so everyone had a thought/panic attack over it. It scared parents with children who were worried that their kids might have the same phase (they will). Morant’s may be more menacing to outsiders, but it’s the same genus.
It seems Morant was guilty of presenting bad optics. The NBA knows who’s buying the tickets and who is funding the ads. And while what Morant has been accused of lately is bad, what’s worse is that it scares the utter shit out of those people. The NBA had to look to be doing something. So that’s what it did, look like it was doing something. What that was…who can say?
Thierry Henry is thirst for the USMNT
Interesting nugget slipping out of France last night:
On the one hand, it’s not totally above board that the FFF is asking Henry to be the head coach of the women’s team a few months before the World Cup. Henry has no experience in the women’s game, and it feels like he was a name they thought could calm the seas after their recent hiccups. Would that solve the problems French football has amongst its women’s team? Almost certainly not, but Henry would be a big shiny name that might get some people to ask fewer questions about it.
As for the second part…ehhhhhhhh. Henry is at least familiar with the American game, because he did coach Montreal FC for…one season. And it was during the pandemic season. So, kind of, not really the normal American season. His time at Monaco was an absolute disaster. He was an assistant for Belgium…under Roberto Martinez, who just happens to be one of the biggest, fraudulent morons in the international game (you’re about to find out, Portugal). So…it kind of feels like his candidacy for the USMNT head coaching job isn’t all that different than the one for the French women’s team. A big name with a glorious playing history that only the truly in the know will ask serious questions about but will seem like a big get to everyone else. And no one listens to those of us in the know.