Sports & Culture Media

Why Not Ja?

via Allen Iverson Twitter

NBA fans will often ask the question, “Who is the future of the NBA?” and get numerous names from all around the world as a response. You may ask “Why is he the future?” yet the answer isn’t as simple as a one-game performance. Last night at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, this question was answered in a 118-105 victory by the Grizzlies over the Spurs and a 52-point game by one player. That player is Ja Morant, and the basketball world was put on notice. 

 To play sports in the city of Memphis takes a special person. The city’s sports enthusiasts and media members have a history of being rather hard on their players and coaches for games played and decisions they make. We have seen plenty of examples of this, from former Grizzlies point guard Jason Williams to most recently Memphis Tigers men’s basketball head coach Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, to name a few. If you look back at the Grizzlies team history, you will see that they have made some quite questionable decisions. For all these bad decisions, the organization has made one decision that we all have grown to love. 

   We often use the term “Franchise Player,” and the Grizzlies have their man. In 2019, the Memphis Grizzlies had a decision to make in the NBA draft with the #2 selection. With that pick came a young man who has taken Memphis and now the NBA over and doesn’t look to be slowing down. 

In his rookie campaign, Morant earned Rookie of the Year with his play, participated in the Rising Stars Game during All-Star Weekend, and was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team. The talented point guard would help lead the Grizzlies to a 34-39 record while averaging 17 points per game and lead all rookies with seven assists per game. 

  Morant was beginning to come into his own in the league and it was showing on his stat lines and highlights. In his 2nd season, he would lead the Grizzlies to a 38-34 regular-season record and a playoff appearance. They made major noise by taking the number one seeded Utah Jazz to a 5-game series. He would go on to average 19 points per game during the regular season and 30 in the series with the Jazz. 

Coming into this season, the Grizzlies were becoming a household name around the NBA. Based on last season’s performance, they were getting love on ESPN, Fox Sports, and other sports information outlets. Something felt different in the bluff {Or in the Grizzlies case DON’T BLUFF} city with this team. The Grizzlies had momentum, but could they make the jump this season? They have answered this with a YES! Ja and the Grizzlies in the 2022 season have become an NBA Championship contender with their play. The Grizz now sits at 43-20 and just one game back of Phoenix for 2nd place in the Western Conference just a few short games out of the All-star break and have a favorable remaining schedule. How special was last night’s performance? 

In a season where Morant has dealt with mental health issues publicly, sustaining injuries and more, he still goes out and puts on an absolute show for fans worldwide nightly. He has fans worldwide, but last night he had a special fan in the house, and that was his daughter. After plays that basketball fans will remember forever, he showed us why he is the future. While being interviewed by Bally Sports in the postgame, his daughter walked up. He picked her up and said, “This is my baby, my motivation right here. Only right to make history on a night; she’s here to watch me.” And this moment spoke volumes to me. 

 I will ask another question as I close. 

Why not Ja for MVP??

Career High Highlights

Wes Pruett