Memphis Grizzlies star guard Ja Morant played his first game in 2021 on Saturday night and led his team to a win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Morant, who suffered a nasty ankle injury on December 28 against the Brooklyn Nets, is an ultimate competitors as he wanted to return to the game after leaving for the loocker room.
The team did not allow Morant to return to the game and tests afterward revealed that the guard suffered a grade 2 sprain. Morant was expected to miss 3-5 weeks but he returned to the court in just less than three weeks.
Morant scored 17 points and had six assists in a tight 106-104 win over the Sixers. "It was huge, in the fact that he wanted to come back so fast," said rookie forward Xavier Tillman, who had 15 points and 4 rebounds in 28 minutes.
"For a guy who .. is a franchise kind-of-guy, they're usually able to take their time and make sure they are 110 percent before they come back. I'm not saying he wasn't 110 percent, but he was dying and itching to come back and help us win games.
"To see that from your head guy motivates everybody else, including me, being one of the rookies on the team. It's like, 'Hey man, forget nicks and bruises. The dude looked like he broke his ankle and he's itching to get back.
If I have nicks and bruises, I can play, and I can give my heart.'
Morant wiling to do everything in order to help the Grizllies win
After suffering a grade 2 sprain, Morant nearly returned to the court but fell short in one of the final tests.
"I had to go through these tests, and I got to the last two, which was hopping just on that foot sideways, forward," Morant said. "And I couldn't. After that, I was frustrated, but you know, these are my guys, I'm very confident in them, and anything I can do to help, I'll do for them."
Being on the sidelines and not being able to help his team was not easy. but Morant realized how strong mentally he was during his break. "I feel like that was big [for me]," Morant said. He then said there was a quote that helped him get through the tough times, but that he didn't want to say it because "I might get emotional."