The implosion of Ja Morant and the Grizzlies

Dennis J. Freeman
5 min readMay 15, 2023
The implosion of Ja Morant and the Grizzlies

(News4usonline) — There are a couple of choice words that best describe the latest alleged gun-related incident involving Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant. Those words will not be uttered here.

But what can be said is that it is unbelievable that the All-Star guard now finds himself suspended from all team-related activities after another video went viral allegedly showing Morant flashing a handgun.

“We are aware of the social media video involving Ja Morant,” a released statement from the Grizzlies via Twitter on May 14 stated. “He is suspended from all team activities pending league review. We have no further comment at this time.”

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja' Morant

© News4usonline — Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja’Morant warms up before hitting the court against the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 21, 2020. Morant was named the 2019–20 Kia NBA Rookie of the Year. Photo by Mark Hammond

After being suspended during the regular season because of another gun-related incident that flashed all over social media, it is difficult to comprehend that Morant would put himself in the position to throw away huge gobs of money and his career by being an idiot.

If the new video is confirmed to be legit, Morant would have to be a complete moron to thug away his status as one of the new and bright faces of the NBA. Hey, Ja. If you’re to pretend to be a thug, go be a thug. Stop calling yourself a professional basketball player.

Therein lies the problem with the Grizzlies as a basketball team. They’re not ready to handle the spotlight. They’d rather flash guns and run smack instead of balling out. One could make the argument that Morant and the Grizzlies balled out during the regular season in which they claimed the №2 seed in the Western Conference.

This postseason, however, exposed the Grizzlies and their entitled attitude. Morant and his Memphis teammates flamed out against the Los Angeles Lakers in their first-round playoff series. That’s because they ran their mouths too much.

The Grizzlies like to talk. When it comes to chirping, perhaps no team in the NBA does it better than the young, talented and annoying Grizzlies. That’s why they’re sitting at home watching the rest of the playoffs.

Memphis players don’t know how to shut up and play. After their early exit in the 2023 NBA playoffs, a deeper inspection of the Grizzlies’ vomit-by-the-mouth nature is necessary.

Oct. 23, 2021. Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant scored 28 points in his team’s 120–114 win against the Los Angeles Clippers. Photo credit: Melinda Meijer/News4usonline

Throughout the regular season and through the playoffs, the Grizzlies made inflammatory remarks about their opponent and presented themselves as being unprofessional. Morant, who averaged just over 26 points and eight assists per game during the regular season, decided to go thuggish and made headlines for all the wrong reasons.

This was the season that Morant was supposed to take the Grizzlies deep in the postseason. That didn’t happen because media headlines around Morant centered more on his attitude and lifestyle than what he does on the basketball court.

After a defeat to the Denver Nuggets earlier this year, Morant was allegedly seen on Instagram Live, flaunting and displaying a firearm at a strip club. That was not a good look for either Morant or the ballclub. Morant wound up being suspended for eight games.

Without question, this incident, near the end of the regular season, had an impact on the Grizzlies getting bounced in the first round. That was one distraction the Grizzlies did not need going into the postseason.

Then there is the matter of Dillon Brooks. Brooks outdid his teammate in the negativity department thanks to the forward running his mouth like a water faucet when the Grizzlies played the Lakers in the first round. Like his buddy, Morant, Brooks made the headlines for the wrong reasons. Just all bad.

Brooks, who has built a reputation for trash-talking and getting into game-time foolery, was just plain disrespectful toward LeBron James and the Lakers. After Game 2 against the Lakers, Brooks went the “Dumb and Dumber” route when he raked James over the coals with some basketball-related disparaging remarks.

“I don’t care. He’s old. … I poke bears. I don’t respect someone until he gives me 40,” Brooks told reporters, and later replayed by Tim MacMahon via Twitter. The Lakers beat Memphis in the best-of-seven series, winning four games to the Grizzlies’ two. The Lakers clinched the series with a 125–85 win in Game 6. That would be exactly 40 points.

24 in the books. keep fighting. keep pushing.

— Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) April 29, 2023

On top of his verbal exchanges with James during their playoff series, Brooks and the Grizzlies ran their mouths in the postseason last year against Draymond Green and the Golden State Warriors. Green and Golden State had the final say, kicking Brooks and Memphis right out of the playoffs in six games on their way to a fourth NBA title.

Green had this to say about Brooks after reading a statement from Brooks about him this season and the Warriors: “Next time you speak up on me you should do some fact-checking…you’re a clown.” Via Bleacher report on Youtube.

Before the Grizzlies were ousted from the playoffs by the Lakers, Memphis recorded a regular season tally of 51–31. Brooks averaged 14.3 points per game during the regular season and only 10.5 points per game. With his numbers and his production dropping, it has been rumored or leaked that Memphis is not interested in bringing Brooks back next season.

In the final games of the Lakers-Grizzlies series, Brooks chose not to speak to the media and made himself unavailable to the press. He was fined $25,000 by the NBA.

Brooks is not the first NBA player to become famous for their trash talk. However, avoiding the media when times are tough is not a good look. Bad sportsmanship is also not a good look. The Grizzlies need to act more professionally to change that narrative.

Reporter Dennis J. Freeman contributed to this story

Lead photo: Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) looks on as he goes back to the locker room after an NBA game between the Grizzlies and the Chicago Bulls on April 2, 2023, at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire)



Dennis J. Freeman

The storyteller. More than a journalist. I write about sports and social justice. Editor of and Black Sports United. Howard University alum.