NBA Star Ego Strokes, Misuses His Influence


courtesy of AP Newsroom

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant adjusts his face guard in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets.

Jalen Flowers, Staff writer

It’s a problem when you can’t be left alone past midnight in an uneventful suburban strip in Colorado. Especially if you’re an NBA All-Star player with a gun in hand, thousands of dollars surrounding you and a reputation to uphold. 

Let’s say you’re Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant. You’ve got a Nike signature shoe, a multi-million dollar salary and you are the face of your team, who is currently ranked No. 2 in the NBA’s Western Conference. You probably feel like you have nothing to prove. 

Contrary to that mindset, Morant thought it would be a good time to flash a gun on his Instagram story, drop $50,000 in a strip club and engage in conduct that was described as “detrimental to the league” by NBA commissioner Adam Silver. 

Morant came from a rough place, where not many people grow up to succeed and he feels the need to let everyone know. As a player, he’s known for carrying a chip on his shoulder. However, Morant’s game speaks for itself. His everlasting need to keep proving himself can be relinquished in any way he wants on the court. 

Morant took a $700,000 pay cut from his salary and was suspended for six games. But professional athlete punishments come and go. The message Morant relays and the status he’s adopting stays relevant, and follows a player throughout their career. 

Morant can’t drop his bravado persona outside the lines. Learn from former NBA player Gilbert Arenas, who essentially lost his career by bringing a gun to practice. Learn from former NFL receiver Plaxico Burress, who shot himself in the leg trying to flex at a nightclub and subsequently lost his career. How many cautionary tales do there need to be before a star like Morant takes caution, and stops himself from becoming another “what if?”

Morant is not a criminal, he doesn’t deserve to be exiled from the NBA and he has become someone bigger than his upbringing. But as viral and touching as his inspirational story can be, his influence carries the same weight.  

The social media post that sparked Morant’s suspension was the final straw for the league. Allegations have been swirling around Morant about his behavior off the court, including assaulting a 17-year old during a pick-up game and allegedly aiming a gun at an Indiana Pacers security guard. 

When you carry the amount of influence as a player like Morant does, with thousands of fans sporting his number 12 in the crowd, 2.6 million Twitter followers and rappers name-dropping you in songs, every move is televised. Knowing the magnitude of his figure, his behavior is more than just undesirable. It’s irresponsible.

With this comes issues in the message he’s giving to young fans, who are trying to dunk like Morant on their mini-hoop or trying to shoot like him in their little league games. Knowing fans watch and even copy his every move, it’s easy to imagine what follows seeing an NBA superstar flaunting a weapon in a night club.