The Memphis Grizzlies’ decision to indefinitely suspend Ja Morant Sunday made plenty of waves in the sports media world. That suspension came after an Instagram Live video emerged Saturday of Morant seemingly flashing a gun in a car. It was similar to a March video of Morant flashing a gun in a strip club. That earlier incident, and a pattern of other reported confrontations, saw Morant take time away from the team, and the NBA suspend him for eight games.
Understandably, the Morant situation came up during the ABC pregame NBA Countdown show ahead of Game 7 of the Boston Celtics-Philadelphia 76ers series Sunday. There, ESPN’s Michael Wilbon had a lot to say about Morant, building off comments from fellow panelists Jalen Rose and Stephen A. Smith. Wilbon touched on Morant’s previous actions, the counseling program he attended in Florida, his endorsements, and more, and also added that he wouldn’t allow his own son Matthew to buy Morant’s shoe. Here’s what Wilbon said:
Michael Wilbon on Ja Morant:
"You listen to Ja Morant postgame, the engagement level and the intellect are unmistakable. But yet, this whole fake gangster theme that I thought we were past as a culture some years ago, I guess he's not past it."pic.twitter.com/BjLmrtOdUj
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) May 15, 2023
“When I hear Jalen say this is not the end, it doesn’t have to be, but this is up to Ja. This is up to him. He’s old enough now, he’s not the normal 23- or 24-year-old, because he’s got all these things, as Stephen A. outlined. There are people who could be around him who are going to have to help lead him out of this.”
“I mean, we hear about four to five days or eight days or whatever in some facility in Florida, that’s a joke. That’s PR. And you can try to PR your way out of this through other social media forms or what have you. The question is ‘Is he going to do the work required of himself to get out of this, and for this to not be the end?'”
“Because what’s going to happen now? Is Nike going to pull that shoe? Is Powerade going to pull that drink? I know in my house, I told Matthew, ‘You can’t have that shoe. I’m not buying that shoe, you’re not buying that shoe. Our money as a family is not going towards that.’ And I’m not the only one who’s going to feel that way.”
“And by the way, I am fascinated with Ja Morant. You listen to Ja Morant postgame, the engagement level and the intellect are unmistakable. But yet, this whole fake gangster theme that I thought we were past as a culture some years ago, I guess he’s not past it, he and his. And it’s just sad. It’s sad.”
Those are certainly some notable comments from Wilbon, especially with him calling Morant’s previous counselling “PR,” saying he and his son won’t buy Morant-branded shoes, and referencing the “fake gangster theme.” It’s interesting to hear him go in on Morant this way, perhaps especially with reference to boycotting his shoes, and with the “fake gangster” comment. And we’ll see how many people do feel the way Wilbon does about Morant-endorsed products.
[Awful Announcing on Twitter]