There are plenty of reasons to criticize Memphis Grizzlies superstar Ja Morant this season, quoting a rapper isn’t one of them. But that didn’t stop Skip Bayless.
Morant was a spectator for the Grizzlies Monday night, returning to the team’s bench for the first time since serving an eight-game suspension for handling a gun inside a Denver nightclub. After the game, in which the Grizzlies beat the Dallas Mavericks, Morant enthusiastically crashed an interview with teammate Santi Aldama to say, “It’s a parade inside my city, yeah!”
YOU ALREADY KNOW 🗣🗣🗣@JaMorant | @santialdama pic.twitter.com/G2rNrxAxQs
— Bally Sports: Grizzlies (@GrizzOnBally) March 21, 2023
The quote, from YoungBoy Never Broke Again (NBA YoungBoy) song Fresh Prince of Utah, has been a postgame victory chant for the Grizzlies throughout the season. Earlier this year, the Grizzlies even replaced NBA YoungBoy’s picture with an image of Morant on the album cover to promote his All-Star Game candidacy.
Despite being adopted as an anthem by the Grizzlies, Bayless took out his fine-toothed comb and determined Morant reciting the quote Monday night was a bad sign because guns are mentioned in the song.
“If I just take quoting a rap lyric in a vacuum, it’s like so not a big deal that it’s laughable that we’re even discussing it,” Bayless told his Undisputed co-host Shannon Sharpe. “But we can’t, when it comes to Ja, take it completely out of the context of what he just went through. So, I’ll just say this, it was not a good sign that he quoted that rap lyric.”
“It was not a good sign that Ja Morant quoted that rap lyric.”@RealSkipBayless on Ja interrupting a courtside interview with “It’s a parade inside my city” pic.twitter.com/eDbasbthME
— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) March 21, 2023
“Ja jumps right in the middle of it because he can’t restrain himself,” Bayless continued. “And he quotes a rap lyric, ‘it’s a parade inside my city, yeah!’ And it’s just straight jubilation…the problem is that line comes from a song that’s just rife with gun violence, well a lot of rap lyrics have [gun violence]. But then, said rapper, if you go back and look at his recent past, he’s been in jail several times for robbery and attempted murder and all kinds of assault charges, so he fits the part of the song, he’s actually playing the role of the song. It’s not the best look to quote that rap lyric just as you’re coming back from dangling a gun. In a vacuum, it’s the smallest deal. In context, it’s a reasonably big deal, to me.”
It’s fair to question Morant’s poor decision making this season after he found himself in connection with multiple gun-related incidents. It’s fair to question whether Morant got the help he sought after entering a counseling facility in Florida and checking out after just a few days. It’s fair to question whether Morant has shown enough contrition following the incident that garnered a suspension. But questioning Morant for celebrating a Grizzlies win by embracing the team’s anthem was just Bayless trying too hard, as Shannon Sharpe aptly highlighted.
“I don’t think that he thought a whole lot of people were going to parse the lyric that he chose as harshly as you did,” Sharpe said.