Ja Morant Dunked on ESPN for Inadvertently Disrespecting the Memphis Grizzlies: ‘That Game Right There Was for You Too’

The 2021-22 season has been a coming-out party for Ja Morant.

Now in his third season, Morant has exploded into superstar territory and solidified his spot in the MVP conversation. Additionally, he’s helping transform the Memphis Grizzlies into outright title contenders.

Wednesday was the latest example of Morant’s brilliance. The 6-foot-3 guard put on a show in a victory over the San Antonio Spurs, improving Memphis’ record to 33-17. However, a national audience was deprived of seeing the game after ESPN made a late switch, which eventually drew a tongue-in-cheek response from the future All-Star.

Ja Morant was brilliant against the San Antonio Spurs

Dazzling performances are nothing new for Morant. Entering Wednesday, the 22-year-old strung together three consecutive games with 33 or more points. But the Grizzles star reached a new level of excellence against the Spurs.

Morant scored 41 points on 15-of-28 shooting, tying a season-high. He also racked up eight assists, five rebounds, and a pair of steals in Memphis’ 118-110 victory. Ja was especially lethal during the second half, securing 13 points in both the third and fourth quarter.

In addition to matching a season-best point total, the star guard was playing with a purpose. Morant missed practice on Tuesday due to the health of his grandmother, who’s struggling in her fight against cancer. Immediately after the game, Morant gave a shout-out to his grandma.

“I just had to go out there and battle,” Morant said courtesy of ESPN‘s Tim MacMahon. “Knowing she’s watching, knowing I couldn’t be there with her right now, I had to put on a performance.”

Following his impressive game, Morant is averaging 25.8 points, 6.9 assists, and 5.9 rebounds per game on 48.9% shooting. The former Rookie of the Year is now 10th in the NBA in scoring and 10th in player efficiency rating, or PER.

Morant took a shot at ESPN for flexing out the Memphis Grizzlies

Clearly, the health of his grandmother gave Morant all the motivation he needed to dominate San Antonio. But there was also a factor at play that gave the former Murray State Racer a chip on his shoulder.

Days before the Grizzlies and Spurs tipped off, ESPN removed the upcoming game from its broadcast schedule. Instead, the Worldwide Leader in Sports opted to carry the New York Knicks at Miami Heat. The decision left Memphis with only six nationally-televised broadcasts as opposed to the seven it was originally scheduled for.

Rather than watching Morant’s 41-point clinic, the national viewing audience was subjected to the Heat cruising to a 110-96 victory over the Knicks. And Ja made sure to throw some shade toward ESPN soon after dedicating the game to his grandma (h/t: Memphis Grizzlies).

“Shout out to whoever took us off TV, appreciate you for that. That game right there was for you too. You wanna take us off? I don’t know what went into that [decision].”

Ja Morant

Ironically, Memphis’ next national broadcast is on Feb. 2 against the Knicks, giving Ja a chance to exact revenge against one of the teams who stole his spotlight.

The Grizzlies should no longer be disrespected

It has taken a while for Morant to get on the national radar as a viable MVP candidate. It’s now time for the rest of the Grizzlies to receive their moment in the sun.

For starters, Memphis has the third-best record in the NBA at 33-17. Through 50 games, the Grizz are within the top-10 for both offensive and defensive rating while playing at the seventh-fastest pace in the league. Morant helps quite a bit in that department, turning Memphis into one of the league’s most exciting teams to watch.

Ja is surrounded by a plethora of youngsters. Second-year guard Desmond Bane is Morant’s partner-in-crime in the backcourt, averaging 17.2 points to nearly double his rookie output. The 6-foot-11 big man Jaren Jackson Jr. is becoming a two-way star of his own with 16.5 points and 2.2 blocks per game. Memphis is also awaiting the return of Dillon Brooks, a 26-year-old averaging 16 or more points in each of the last three seasons.

The Grizzlies are a deep team with very few weaknesses and a true star in Morant. Hopefully, ESPN learned a valuable lesson in not shining a light on this contender when it had the chance.

All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.

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