You’ve seen this before. Well, maybe not – you can’t be sure. But you’ve seen enough to know it’s good, and that it’s righteous by your eyes. Players like this come along – allegedly – all the time, and if you blink, you miss them. The why used to be nebulous, but it isn’t anymore: if you can run like that, and jump like that, well, you’re going to burn out rather than fade away.
Then again, though, watching a dude with rim-smashing force and game-changing power in the 2019 draft from South Carolina shouldn’t have been much of a novelty. Look yourself in the mirror: now you know that two of those existed at the same time, doing different but exactly the same things. You had nothing to do with this, and your teams aren’t pleased, but you remain mesmerized.
It’s a grand Grizzlies tradition. It can be easy to have missed this, but Ja Morant has become exactly the reason people randomly tune into basketball when they’re running through live things that are on, at least once they tire of everything else.
Memphis, you know; the Grizzlies, you may know, are now and have been in Memphis, late of Vancouver. They had both Gasol brothers, and Tony Allen’s grind house, and the understated brilliance of Mike Conley, now shining in Utah.
All of that begat this: Ja Morant created a singular highlight reel on Monday night that, if nukes and gods hold their positions, will define his career and the Memphis Grizzlies, at least until he does something even more amazing. I do not harbor any doubts.
Within a three-minute period before halftime against the San Antonio Spurs, Morant contributed a generational dunk along with a potentially career-defining buzzer-beater (courtesy of Steven Adams). While this isn’t typically game recap meat, it does lend itself to the bones we crush after we make the broth, and Ja Morant seems to be in that zone.
Morant moves unlike anyone before him. He speedily glides up court like Westbrook, he jukes at the top of the key like Iverson, he adjusts in mid-air like Jordan, and he has the pocket to maneuver out of situations like Rose; maybe those plugs are off, but Ja never is.
He lives to amaze: the 52-point effort he point up the other night, a Grizz franchise record, speaks to that. The highlight reel that remains as a testament to his insane capabilities serves only as video proof of what it is that he can accomplish, which is to say: I’m not exactly sure what he can accomplish, but I can’t wait to find out.
The Grizzlies won that game, by the way, in what would’ve otherwise been a Gregg Popovich record-adjacent thing. Morant did not want that to happen on his watch; the Spurs would’ve appreciated that notice, in light of that defeat.
While he seems to possess a sense of history, he’s also trying to do his own thing. Ja Morant is the one player who is capable of anything, right now. Even if the heavy hitters of the NBA playoff picture suggest otherwise, the Dalzell native will have something to say about it. He’s been there, but, if he has anything to do with it, maybe they won’t be.