Memphis Grizzlies rookie sensation Ja Morant is a 19-year-old Q from Canada who is getting rave reviews for his play on the court. I’m not a basketball fan, but I am a fan of the rule of law, and there are now serious questions being raised about the way Ja’s talents have been misused.
On Wednesday, the Memphis Grizzlies acquired former Murray State point guard Ja Morant in a trade with the Utah Jazz, the team announced. Morant is the No. 18 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, the Grizzlies’ first round selection and the highest one they had received since they drafted Michael Finley at No. 5 in 1996. The Grizzlies have since traded Finley to the Dallas Mavericks. After two seasons at Murray State, Morant declared for the NBA Draft, where he was selected by the Jazz, but he did not sign with the team because of a situation between his agent and the Jazz.
On Monday night, the Grizzlies were set to take on the Utah Jazz in the first game of a back-to-back in Salt Lake City. At the last minute, the Grizzlies announced that they were moving the game from Vivint Smart Home Arena to Vivint Smart Home Arena in Utah. The announcement came after a number of incidents during the season that fans felt were racially charged. Earlier this month, the Grizzlies released a statement saying that they would be moving their game against the Jazz to Salt Lake City.. Read more about jazz coach and let us know what you think.Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder publicly apologized Friday to Memphis Grizzlies quarterback Ja Morant and his family. He also called for a lifetime ban for the three fans who made vulgar and racist comments about Morant’s family during the second game in Salt Lake City.
The Jazz suspended three fans indefinitely after the incident, but Snyder said he felt the punishment should continue.
First of all, I want to apologize to Ja and his family, Snyder said after Friday’s practice. No one should have to put up with behavior like that last night. That’s a shame. And the people who made those comments should be banned for life. I’m sorry [his family] had to go through this and, as I said, it’s deplorable, disturbing and shouldn’t be tolerated.
Morant’s father, Tee, told ESPN’s Tim McMahon on Thursday that his family was subjected to sexually explicit and racist comments from a trio of fans, including one who shouted: I’ll put a fiver on your back and watch you dance, boy.
Jazz star Donovan Mitchell, who spoke out in support of Morant and his family after the bans were announced and condemned the fans’ behavior, reiterated his position Friday.
Mitchell said he contacted Morant to express his appreciation for the way the 21-year-old handled the situation.
You’ve seen people say that the way they would have handled [the situation] would have been totally different, Mitchell said. This is very regrettable and must change. It happened here. Trey [Young] got spit on in New York, Russell Westbrook got popcorn thrown at him, and of course we hear about what’s happening in Boston. Come on, man.
I think it’s good to ban them, but I don’t think they should come back. I understand that it’s more than that, and I understand that the league and the team are working on that, but I feel like it has no place in life, and not even just in basketball.
Morant spoke to reporters Friday about the incident and said he was pleased with the way the Jazz handled the situation. But he said he couldn’t believe his family had been subjected to such behavior.
It is clear that what has happened is highly unacceptable, Mr Morant said. My family is fine. It’s incredible that such things still happen in today’s world. But for now, we, me and my family, are focused on the third game. We’ll probably go home and watch a basketball game with them tonight to get ready, and we’re looking forward to going back to Memphis where we feel comfortable, where we have fans that accept us, love us, and treat us like we belong.
Although his father told ESPN on Thursday that he would return to Utah for Game 5, Morant said Friday that he wasn’t sure that would happen because of the way his family has been treated.
Morant said he always keeps an eye on where his family members are sitting in opponents’ arenas, and he noticed a problem in the second game when he looked in the stands.
I heard about Utah, Morant said. I’ve invited a lot of people, I know at least two figures, and I know where they sit during the game. So when I’m in a rut and I start talking, I always look at them because I know where they are and I know they’re probably saying the same thing I am, so I really get a lot of energy from them. I was walking around in the third quarter and I happened to see my guys talking to the guards.
Morant said he first asked Grizzlies security to tell his family to try to calm down. But after the game, after hearing what the fans said, Morant said he understood why his family reacted the way they did.
I told them I really wasn’t going to clap anymore because it obviously affected some people in the stands, Morant said. Of course, it bothered me. After the game I went back to the hotel, sat down with my family and they told me what had been said. I got a little angry because I told them to stay calm, but if I had known what they were saying, I would have just let the family do it instead of trying to calm them down.
It’s obviously hard for all of us, but we keep going. We will continue to try to stop this, but we are glad Utah did what they did to those fans.
Mitchell said he was disgusted when he heard of fans’ comments about the Morant family, especially in light of previous incidents in Utah and the rest of the league.
We’re now at the point where our team gives scholarships to underrepresented kids in the community, and most of them are minorities, Mitchell said. And I feel like it’s inconsistent that something like this happens, and I feel like it’s kind of wrong that it happens. And it’s not just here; it’s not just in Utah. It’s happened here before. This has happened several times since I’ve been here. It’s something I feel strongly about because, after all, we play for jazz. So what you say about Jah’s father and mother, you say about my father and mother, [Derrick Favors] father and mother. That’s not what you’re talking about, Grizzly – you’re talking about a black man, a black woman, and I have a feeling that’s the former.
Basketball being what it is, this is a first. And that’s what we are. We’re mostly African-American men and women, and when you say something like that, it’s just horrible and ridiculous.
Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said he and the team talked about what the Morant family went through in Game 2. He said he knew there were talks between the Jazz and the league, but called the situation frustrating.
Everyone was locked in COVID, sitting at home and trying to exercise and get back into social arenas and atmosphere, and that’s what you do, Jenkins said. It’s the essence of humanity that needs to be addressed, and I’m just frustrated. … But knowing that this exists in our country, in our NBA arenas, in our fan bases – I think you have to face that.
Morant said he hopes the NBA will consider putting all visiting family and friends on the road in the same section so they have more control over the arena environment.
My family was surrounded by a lot of Utah fans in town, so it was hard for them to cheer without someone saying something, Morant said. I’m not going to sit here and pretend it’s only Utah fans. My family told me that some Utah fans defended them and said something to the people who said those things to my family. My father laughed and joked with some of them. They were buying drinks – so it wasn’t all of them, it was just a few of them.
My family and I are grateful to the Utah Jazz fans who cared about us, laughed and joked, and those who stood up and said something to the three people who were ostracized.
Despite a few incidents with sometimes loud and disrespectful fans in Utah in recent years, Mitchell said he doesn’t think the reputation Jazz fans have developed over the years will deter players from signing with the team in the future.
I don’t think so, Mitchell said. I think as a team, what we represent with Ryan [Smith] and now Dwyane [Wade] in the offense and also with the Millers, we’ve shown that sometimes we take a step forward, sometimes we take a step back in these incidents. Look at the team we have now – we have [Jordan Clarkson] deciding to re-sign, [Favors] coming back. We have guys who want to be here, who want to play.
Mitchell added: It seems like it only happens here, but as we have seen, incidents happen everywhere. But I don’t think it will necessarily make a difference. I don’t know, but I don’t think it necessarily affects the guys’ decision to come here or not.
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