Never Mind Déjà vu: Just “Ja,” All Over Again!

It’s time to Break It Down!

This is a brief one. All opinion, no research. Moreover, if you don’t know who Ja Morant is, don’t worry about it. This post, short though it is, is probably not for you.

A couple of months ago, Morant, one of the most luminous stars in the NBA; owner of a contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars, was featured in a video waving a gun. Not a look the NBA wants to have associated with someone purportedly with the potential, if not actually being groomed to be a candidate for next face of the League.

He was forthwith suspended for conduct detrimental to the League and would miss at least 8 games before returning to his team, the Memphis Grizzlies. While away, he went to counseling, or rehabilitation, or something of the sort. 

In the aftermath of that episode, there were howls of derision aimed at the NBA for being overly aggressive in punishing the young man. There were folks who actually sounded as if they felt Morant was somehow a victim, being needlessly harassed by the big bad NBA.

Fast forward to this past Sunday; Ja was suspended again. Similar to the previous time, after appearing in an Instagram Live video, wielding a gun. Suffice it to say, those who tried to ascribe victim status to Ja were mistaken. If anything, the first suspension was an intervention. A little digging revealed the League had unearthed a pattern of dangerous and destructive behavior by Ja…before the first suspension. 

In the wake of the most recent travail, I’ve heard some folks ask what’s the big deal? There are politicians who make ads for their election/re-election campaigns featuring themselves firing weapons. This is both true, and unfortunate. The NBA has a higher standard of decorum than say, the U.S. Congress. To be clear, the League is a business, and it has decided it is not in their best interest to condone or promote a group of mostly young Black men feigning gun play. Consider it a lesson learned from the 70’s and 80’s when even the League’s premier event, the NBA Playoffs was shown on tape-delay, and attendance and ad revenue was down, because the League and its players were deemed to reflect, or closely associated with the drug culture and gang violence of that era.

The cohort of players that represent the predominate contingent of the League will never be viewed as totally pristine. That’s not how 19-30-year-olds roll. But, since Magic and Bird arrived on the scene, The arbiters of League policy and procedure have re-imagined the operation and made the NBA a featured player in the American sports landscape. The League routinely plays a few games internationally, and the playoffs are viewed worldwide…in real time. No one wants to go back. And you can be sure, Ja Morant will not be the catalyst for a reversal of fortune.

I hope the young man, who claimed he learned his lesson after the first time…he didn’t…figures out he;s not about that life, pulls it all together and goes on to have the career that his immense talent suggests he’s capable of achieving. Until then, “Never Mind Déjà vu: Just “Ja,” All Over Again!”

I’m done; holla back!

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