In a wide-ranging interview on the Pivot Podcast, Ja Morant expressed his belief that, without his injury in Game Three, his Memphis Grizzlies would have triumphed in their second round series with your Golden State Warriors.
“It was pretty much our year but that injury cause me to be out,” said Morant. “And now you have to change lineups and you know guys playing without me. I feel like that’s the most frustrating part for me. You know, being out there and not being able to compete.”
Morant bumped knees with Jordan Poole late in the third quarter of Game Three, and was subsequently ruled out of the remainder of the series. Afterward, Morant and especially Coach Taylor Jenkins advanced the ludicrous position that Poole had intentionally and recklessly injured Morant’s knee while grabbing for the ball. Jenkins didn’t even back down when the injury was revealed to be a bone bruise, and likely an aggravation of the injury that made Morant miss nine games late in the season.
Look, there’s a month before opening night, and nothing is happening in the NBA, but these comments do put fuel on the fire of the smoldering Memphis-Golden State rivalry. It will really heat up if Andre Iguodala decides to come back and get booed every time he touches the ball. Dillon Brooks was already a giant trash talker of the Warriors - he spoke of Iguodala missing out on their “dynasty” - and he became an outright villain when he broke Gary Payton II’s elbow with a cheap shot in the same series. And Klay Thompson went after “that bum” Jaren Jackson Jr. in his press conference after winning a title.
Stephen Curry says Dillon Brooks said a ton of ‘crazy things’ to him: ‘He called himself a dynasty already’ https://t.co/9nbni7bBmc— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) May 14, 2022
The Grizzlies were 1-2 without Morant in the series, and they went 1-2 without him. As good as Morant is as a player - he was 7th in the MVP vote and won Most Improved Player - the Grizzlies went 20-5 without him in the regular season, and absolutely crushed the Warriors in Game Five with Morant in street clothes. But of course he thinks Memphis would have beaten the Warriors with him! He’s an insanely confident player who put up 47 points in Game Two with one of his eyes swollen shut. Ja is willing to attempt dunks over anyone in the league, and his missed dunk compilation is better than many stars successful dunk reels.
So while Morant is wrong - the Warriors had the series in hand after stealing home-court advantage back - Memphis fans should be thrilled he’s this confident. Plus, as the rest of the podcast reveals, Morant seems like a nice guy with a great dad who just happens to look like Usher.
It’s a great rivalry with many years ahead of it, so as Usher would recommend, let’s let it burn.