A series of bad decisions have cast a dark cloud over Ja Morant and his once-bright future as the potential face of the NBA. Will he learn from all this and get the focus back to his play and not his problems?
Whenever you are a small market team with big-time superstar talent like Ja Morant, you always strive to be the talk of the town, right?
Media blitzes—your team’s rags-to-riches stories, all 12 of them, are rolled out for anyone and everyone to consume.
But as we’re seeing right now with the Memphis Grizzlies and Morant, being the talk of the NBA isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Primarily when that talk centers around your 23-year-old superstar who is on the short list of off-the-chart talents in the NBA poised to suck up the soon-to-be-available airspace that will be left when LeBron James finally retires, a reality that might be coming sooner rather than later as Father Time reminds James and the rest of us, that Father Time always wins!
The reports involving Morant getting into a fight with a teenager that allegedly involved Morant brandishing a gun, or the more recent video that appears to show him flashing a gun (about three seconds into the IG Live post) at a Colorado nightclub that was followed by a suspension of at least two games by Memphis, show Morant, for all the adoration and accolades and multi-generational wealth he has already amassed, has not accumulated the most fundamental ingredient to a successful career: common sense.
Without common sense, brandishing a gun on social media isn’t such a bad idea. Without common sense, no thought is given to putting yourself in a position to do some of the unsavory acts Morant allegedly did, acts that will likely cost him financially and ding his perceived creditworthiness in the court of public opinion, akin to paying a bill late and seeing your credit score drop in value like a Ben Simmons trading card.
Just like that, Morant finds himself trending away from being the future face of the NBA to instead becoming a cautionary tale that if he’s not more careful in the future, will become the subject of one of those sports documentaries centered around the all-too-common, cliche’-like themes involving Black athletes who “could have been one of the all-time greats if only he didn’t ...”
Having dealt with Morant in the past, there’s a lot to like about him.
He is a young father who seems to enjoy and embrace the journey. A key figure in Memphis’ rise to being one of the top teams in the NBA, Morant is the unquestioned leader of a band of brothers who play with a revolutionary resolve and edge, showing little patience and even less reverence for the NBA’s established powers that be.
If the Black Panthers were an NBA team, it would look and play a lot like the Grizzlies.
But even with a revolutionary style, there has to be some degree of refraining from your best players, your leaders.
And this is where Ja Morant has to show the most growth, quickly.
Memphis suspending him for at least a couple of games for the IG Live post, was a good start. Morant issuing a statement is another good move down the road of accountability and if he’s fortunate, acceptance back into the always-forgiving NBA community.
But the true change won’t be what we see, but rather, what we don’t.
When he’s on the road, the social media posts we get alerting us to his whereabouts, will be him poppin’ jokes with his teammates and not bottle-poppin’ at a nightclub. The folks that he rolls with, will either change in size (some folks may need to be cut loose) or scope (they come to games and say nothing and do nothing else) soon.
And Morant will do what the really great ones who go through something like this, tend to do, which is return the focus to their play and not their problems off the court.
A deep playoff run by the Memphis Grizzlies, one of the best teams record-wise in the NBA this season, would go far in changing the narrative surrounding Morant and the team.
His journey just getting to the NBA has a Hollywood-like feel to it. Unranked as a high school recruit who couldn’t even dunk until he was a high school senior, Morant was discovered by accident by an assistant coach at Murray State who was grabbing a snack while on the lookout for another recruit, when he saw Morant shredding some kids in a 3-on-3 game.
From there, he became a star in college and now, the face of an NBA franchise.
Morant has lived the kind of life that gives hope to many that they too can rise above whatever challenges they are faced with, just as long as they stay ready for that one moment that could forever change their life and the lives of those around them.
There are many ingredients that have to come into play in order to cook up that kind of success.
Chief among them?
Common sense, something we hope Morant gets a hearty heaping of going forward.