By Mardeio Cannon | OBSERVER Columnist
Relaxing by the pool at a fabulous resort celebrating our wedding anniversary last week and showing off my fantastic physique (don’t hate), my cell phone exploded with a photo of Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies. As most of you who follow the NBA know, Morant is one of if not the most exciting players in the league. This young man has helped to turn the Memphis Grizzlies into a top contender in the Western Conference.
The picture had the caption “Ja Morant NBA career in doubt!”
Upon further review of the Morant situation, I found out he had two incidents this past summer that still may cause him legal headaches. First was an incident at a mall where he allegedly threatened a store clerk. Then came an incident at a pick-up basketball game in which he purportedly threatened to kill one of the players. Morant has not been charged in either incident.
However, last week Morant posted an Instagram live video of himself in which he appeared to brandish a gun, resulting in the Grizzlies suspending him a minimum of two games. Police in Colorado are determining whether to charge Morant with a gun crime. Fines and suspension levied by the NBA are likely forthcoming.
Why, you ask, would a budding NBA superstar who could be the face of the league and make millions more in endorsements jeopardize his career with these foolish behaviors?
The answer has been debated by talking heads on television, radio and in barber shops all over the United States.
Morant, like all NBA players, should look at the example set by LeBron James. James was raised by a single mother, came into the NBA right out of high school and has never had any type of negative publicity about his off-court behavior. He also still has all of his childhood buddies, who have stood by him all these years. Now a billionaire, James has donated much of his earnings to helping youth in Akron, Ohio, and in the Los Angeles area, where he plays for the Lakers.
Morant, in my opinion, wants to publicly display a thug mentality to prove to his boys that he has not copped out from the ’hood mentality.
If Morant researched NBA history, he would find out that two past all-stars — Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony — had meetings with then-Commissioner David Stern that changed their perspective about trying to live a thug lifestyle while earning millions as an NBA player.
I hope that while on suspension, Morant does some real soul searching to determine if he wants to change his off-the-court lifestyle and restore his image, or continue the thug lifestyle off the court that will cost him his NBA career and possibly his life. I hope he makes the right choice.