The new reports that NBA star Ja Morant has recently been the subject of police reports, stemming from allegations of violence and menacing threats, have renewed attention to previous comments made by Shannon Sharpe about the professional basketball player’s behavior off the court.
Namely, Sharpe advised Morant to stop posturing like he’s “a thug” instead of just being the “really good basketball player” he already is. On Thursday morning, Sharpe echoed those prior concerns and then some, saying Morant is “hustling backward” and advising him to “move differently.”
In case you missed it, Ja Morant, who stars for the Memphis Grizzlies, and at least one of his friends were on Wednesday revealed to have allegedly repeatedly punched a 17-year-old boy in the face and head during a pickup basketball game at the star’s home last summer. In that instance, Morant is also accused of going into his home and emerging with a gun in his waistband. Morant reportedly claimed he was defending himself from the teenager.
That allegedly happened four days after Morant and “a group of as many as nine other people” allegedly “threatened” a sneaker shop employee after a dispute with the basketball player’s mother in a Memphis mall, according to police reports obtained by the Washington Post. When mall security confronted the group, a man in Morant’s group allegedly assaulted the employee. Morant then said, “Let me find out what time he gets off,” according to police reports, which also state that the mall security “felt threatened by the statement from Ja Morant.”
The suggested implication is that Morant and the group were going to return to the mall and physically confront mall security.
Those damning reports came weeks after an alleged incident involving Morant in the loading dock area of the Grizzlies’ home arena FedEx Forum as the Indiana Pacers were about to depart following their game Jan. 29.
A report on The Athletic claimed that “acquaintances of Grizzlies star Ja Morant aggressively confronted members of the Pacers traveling party near the team’s bus in the loading area of FedEx Forum, and later someone in a slow-moving SUV — which Morant was riding in — trained a red laser on them.”
It was also reported that a Pacers’ security guard present at the time remarked, “That’s 100% a gun.”
During the game, Morant notably exchanged words with Pacers guard Chris Duarte.
Then, Pacers assistant coach Lloyd Pierce got upset at something said across the court by Morant’s friend, Davonte Pack, who walked on the court and toward the Pacers’ bench. Pack was escorted away from his courtside seat and did not return.
Morant had a few things to say to Pacers rookie Andrew Nembhard, as well.
From the Athletic:
After the game, the Pacers players, coaches and support staff entered the loading area to board a team bus. About 30 to 40 yards away from the bus were two parked cars. Pack and four to five other men emerged from the cars, walked to within 30 feet of the Pacers group and began shouting at them.
According to the sources, the remarks directed at them by Pack and others included: “Come get some of this” and “you don’t know how we roll” and “I’ll show you what I got.” Some Pacers players and others yelled back at them, according to the two people present. Pacers, NBA and arena security got between the two groups.
Less than a week later, Morant took to Twitter to suggest the reports about him were lies.
That Jan. 29 episode prompted Sharpe to issue a rebuke of Morant.
Speaking on Feb. 6 on his show, Undisputed, Sharpe told cohost Skip Bayless that Morant is trying too “hard,” literally and figuratively.
“I wish Ja would realize he’s not a thug. Ja is a really good basketball player. Ja did everything he could to lift himself and his family out of this environment and to get away from this,” Sharpe told Bayless, who nodded in agreement. “And for some reason, he wants to surround himself with these types of people. Why? Bruh, you not hard. That’s not your life.”
To be sure, Morant has neither been charged with a crime nor arrested over these allegations.
However, there have been other instances of NBA players losing their lucrative contracts because of guns.
That was true in 2009 when then-Washington Wizards All-star point guard Gilbert Arenas admitted to storing multiple guns in the Wizards’ home arena, a felony crime for which he was later charged in Washington, D.C. Arenas brandished one of those guns in the locker room days after a teammate, Javaris Crittenton, loaded a gun and threatened to shoot Arenas over a gambling debt.
While both players were suspended for a year, neither returned to their previous form and ultimately fizzled out of the NBA prematurely.
Hopefully, Morant does not end up suffering a similar fate.
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