Yes Morant needs to stop trying to “keep it real” and instead focus on “hooping,” according to ESPN personality and former NBA center Kendrick Perkins.
“Who are you doing it for?” Perkins asked on Monday’s episode of ESPN’s First Take. ‘Are you doing it to get applause?…’ Oh yeah man, you know what, he’s a real one. He’s a real one.’ Keep it real for who?’
Morant will not be with the Memphis Grizzlies for at least their next two games, the team announced Saturday, not long after the NBA opened an investigation into a social media post from the guard, who livestreamed himself with what appeared to be a gun at a nightclub. The video was posted by Morant to his Instagram page early Saturday, hours after the Grizzlies played in Denver.
That incident followed a game against the Indiana Pacers; citing unnamed sources, The Indianapolis Star and USA Today reported that multiple members of the Pacers saw a red dot pointing at them, and The Athletic reported that a Pacers security guard thought the laser was attached to a gun.
Also a recent one Washington Post report claims Morant threatened a security guard at a Memphis mall last summer during an altercation in a parking lot, four days before he allegedly punched a 17-year-old, took a gun from his home, and reemerged with the firearm in his waistband. Morant was also seen mimicking small arms fire with his fingers during a recent sideline against the Houston Rockets on March 1.
Gun-toting Ja Morant (left) should stop trying to “keep it real” and instead focus on “hooping,” according to ESPN personality and former NBA center Kendrick Perkins (right)
The problem, according to Perkins, is that 23-year-old Morant is trying to impress people he should ignore, given all he has to lose.
“You work your whole life to get out of a situation you were in to make yourself a better life, to secure your future, to secure your children’s future, your children’s future, to get to this point. not to go back to talking about trying to please others,” said Perkins, a 38-year-old who was raised by his grandparents in a low-income area of East Texas.
And Perkins wasn’t just talking about Morant, but the entire Grizzlies organization. The former NBA champion with the Boston Celtics called out Memphis stars Desmond Bane and Jars Jackson Jr. out over unspecified tweets.
“This isn’t just Ja Morant, when it comes to the Memphis Grizzlies,” Perkins told host Stephen A. Smith and guest Brian Windhorst. “Look, this is the Memphis Grizzlies as a whole. You’ve got Desmond Banes (sic), Jars Jackson Jr. – I watch them talk on social media, and I keep asking ‘why?’ For example, you are basketball players. You are basketball players. You don’t have to worry about that life. About what life? Just hooping.’
Perkins did have some sympathy for Morant, a young millionaire who could be a target for would-be thieves.
After all, Perkins played in Boston with Paul Pierce, who was stabbed in a club in 2000 and admittedly began carrying a gun afterwards.
“First of all, for the people on the outside, who have never been in this situation, you don’t know how hard it is,” Perkins said. “You don’t understand how you come out of nowhere and suddenly have the world in the palm of your hand, access to millions or hundreds of millions of dollars, drive private jets, do whatever you want at a young age – 23, 24, 25 – you doesn’t even understand because you’ve never been in that position.
“That’s a tough position to be in.”
Morant was criticized for a recent handgun mimicking game during a sideline
Perkins wasn’t just talking about Morant, but the entire Grizzlies organization. The former NBA champion with the Boston Celtics called out Memphis stars Desmond Bane and Jars Jackson Jr. out over unspecified tweets
Perkins went on to say he hopes Morant gets help, adding that “he’ll be fine,” because the All-Star point guard is still young enough to change.
But Perkins’ bigger fear is that Morant and other athletes will make it harder for the next generation of black players to succeed at the professional level.
“What players are doing today, in today’s game, man, they’re killing the next generation,” Perkins said, referring to the recent trend of trade demands among top NBA players. “They’re killing the 80 percent or more African American kids who are grinding day in and day out, parents are sacrificing money so they don’t have to travel to make sure their kids go to these AAU games because these kids would actually get the chance to go to the competition.
“It gets to a point where you just need to focus on what brought you here, be thankful for what brought you here, and stop trying to please the quote unquote “real ones” who don’t care about you ,” Perkins continued. “Because when it’s all done, your phone will stop ringing when you stop playing.”