Ja Morant Controversial Celebration After Grizzlies Win

Grizzlies' Star Faces Backlash Over Post-Dunk Celebration.

by Nouman Rasool
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Ja Morant Controversial Celebration After Grizzlies Win
© Sean Gardner/Getty Images

In a remarkable turn of events following Ja Morant's return to the court, the Memphis Grizzlies have maintained an impressive 4-0 winning streak, solidifying their position as a force to be reckoned with in the Western Conference.

Morant's exceptional performance did not go unnoticed as he was honored with the Western Conference Player of the Week title in his first week back from a substantial 25-game suspension. However, his celebratory gesture during a recent game has sparked a wave of controversy and debate among fans and critics alike.

The moment of contention occurred in the waning seconds of an overtime thriller against the New Orleans Pelicans. With just 14 seconds left and the Grizzlies ahead by four, a strategic alley-oop from Marcus Smart to Morant culminated in a dunk that essentially sealed the victory for Memphis.

It was Morant's subsequent celebration – a gesture resembling finger guns, followed by a motion towards his head – that ignited controversy. This act, while possibly innocuous and even reminiscent of celebratory dances by LSU football players, as highlighted in a video shared by Morant, raised eyebrows given Morant's recent suspension history.

Morant's Controversial Gesture

Morant's suspension, stemming from instances of him flashing a handgun on Instagram Live, has been a topic of intense scrutiny.

His latest celebration, interpreted by some as mimicking gun gestures, has therefore been met with criticism for its perceived insensitivity and potential to undermine his rehabilitation efforts. This incident has not only drawn attention on social media platforms but also prompted discussions about the responsibilities of high-profile athletes in public conduct.

Despite the controversy, Morant's return has been a mixed bag of reactions from the public. In New Orleans, he was greeted with boos, a stark contrast to the warm reception he received in Memphis. His journey has been punctuated by disciplinary actions, including two suspensions – the first lasting eight games and the second, a more severe 25-game penalty.

In a statement following his second suspension, Morant expressed regret for his actions and acknowledged his failure to serve as a positive role model. NBA commissioner Adam Silver also weighed in, describing the incident as both "alarming" and "disconcerting." On the court, Morant's impact has been undeniably positive for the Grizzlies.

His stellar performance in the team's first game back, where he scored 34 points including a game-winning shot, set the tone for subsequent victories against the Pacers, Hawks, and a second win over the Pelicans. Reflecting on these achievements, Morant expressed his elation and emphasized the importance of carrying this momentum forward.

The Grizzlies' next challenge lies in their upcoming match against the Denver Nuggets. As the team looks to extend their winning streak, all eyes will be on Morant, not just for his on-court prowess but also for his conduct in the limelight.

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