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Trash Talking Fans and Staring Down Kids: Is Ja Morant the Next NBA Bad Boy?

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Ever since Ja Morant entered the NBA for the Memphis Grizzlies in the 2019 NBA draft, he’s had no problem making a name for himself. The road to cementing himself as one of the next NBA Superstars has consisted of numerous posterizing dunks and high scoring performances that have helped power the Memphis Grizzlies place third in the western conference. They’re right beneath the Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors, and all indications point to 2022 being a season to remember for fans as well as members of the front office. 

They have to thank their franchise player, Ja Morant, who has no problem making waves on and off the court. This has been especially true this year, and he’s had no problem even taking his own fans to task. Returning from a knee injury, he shared that he was hurt after overhearing Grizzlies fans in the crowd say that he should sit back down. This was one of the first indications that he’d handle fans the same way he does opposing players. Some followers of the NBA wonder what this means for Ja Morant’s stature as one of the league’s biggest and brightest rising stars. 

The demeanor he brings to the game is vastly different than that of most other young superstars currently in the NBA. Many NBA fans wonder if Ja Morant is the next in line to take the title of the league’s biggest villain. Given the fact that he literally stared  down children in the crowd during his most recent showdown against the Golden State Warriors, it’s more than a fair concern. 

Kids Aren’t Even Safe From Ja Morant’s Ire

He rumbled into the crowd and seemingly ignored kids who were hoping to high-five him, so it seems like he was being the next great NBA bad boy. He offered his rationale on Twitter  for not high-fiving the young fans, describing that he was “too locked in”. He later claimed that their 10 game winning streak, including a victory over the Golden State Warriors, led to the Grizzlies receiving respect they hadn’t previously received. 

The moment may have been a galvanizing one, but it seemed to have struck a nerve with star Warriors Point Guard, Stephen Curry. The exact quote from Morant was, “I bet you we’ve got it [respect] now”, to which Curry replied, “The big part is you talk about it right now; you’ve got to show it in the playoffs. We want to be there to try to do that. I know they want to, too. Nobody’s trying to win the verbal conversation right now of who we are in January”. It’s only natural to wonder if his peers are growing tired of Morant’s fiery nature.

Are People Growing Tired of the Antics?

As part of his rise to NBA Superstardom, Morant made a habit of “almost” dunking on NBA vets, which led to attention from numerous media outlets. Now, his highlight reel consists of slick passes, chase down blocks, and the occasional thunderous roar down the lane leading to a dunk. Since the brunt of his celebrity is from essentially embarrassing other players, it’s fair to question how his attitude has affected his stature in the league. There’s no telling how much longer other players, and even home team fans will be willing to tolerate a level of outspokenness that’s rarely been displayed before, even by a star athlete. Fortunately, his play on the court seems more than capable of backing up his tone off the court. Although it doesn’t always seem like it, he appreciates engagement with fans too. 

The Memphis Grizzlies star offered to personally send a jersey to the same young fans he stared down during the game against the Golden State Warriors. The impact Morant has had on the Memphis Grizzlies franchise is immense. His star is so bright, in fact, that the interaction with the young fans led to the team’s official Twitter account, the introduction of the New Year, New Jerseys program. The program allows fans with any opposing team jerseys, adult or youth sizes, to trade for brand new Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Junior jerseys. Hopefully, the same kids that were left hanging on their high fives will come back in Grizzlies jerseys next time.

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