Ja Morant‘s wild 2022-23 NBA season took another strange twist on Thursday afternoon.
Morant entered the season as a front runner for the NBA MVP award after he helped lead the Grizzlies to the Western Conference semifinals a year ago.
And while things went well on the court, with Morant making the NBA All-Star game and the Grizz securing the second seed in the west, things were a bit different off the court.
Let’s start back in January, when Morant was sued for allegedly assaulting a 17-year-old high school student after a pickup basketball game.
Weeks later, Morant was back in the news when his father, Tee, got into an altercation with Shannon Sharpe during a game between the Grizzlies and Lakers.
Things only got worse two weeks later when Morant’s entourage was banned from NBA arenas for allegedly flashing guns at members of the Indiana Pacers’ security staff.
But wait, there’s more!
Morant then threatened legal action against the Washington Post for a pair of stories about off-court incidents involving Morant over the summer, including the alleged pick-up game assault
Just days after that, Morant was seen flashing a gun while in a strip club in Denver. Memphis and the NBA suspended Morant for the incident.
He also went to a rehab center to curb his behavior.
Eventually, he returned to the court for the stretch run of the regular season.
That must have been the end of things, right?
Damichael Cole of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis reports Morant is now counter-suing Joshua Holloway, the teenager who sued him for assault after a pick-up basketball game.
Cole reports that the countersuit claims Holloway initiated the incident by throwing a basketball at Morant and later threatened to use a gun again him.
“Getting hit in the face with a basketball hurts; for a professional point guard like Mr. Morant, an injury to the eyes or nose could be career ending,” the filing read.
The filing added when Holloway threw the ball at Morant, he balled up his fists and approached him, which led to Morant striking him one time. Holloway was 17 at the time. Morant’s countersuit also mentions a threatening Snapchat message sent to Morant that the attorneys allege could have come from Holloway based on the screen name it was sent from. – via The Commercial Appeal
The countersuit claims that Holloway’s allegations could cost Morant a spot on an All-NBA team. If that were the case, Morant could stand to lose out on more than $39 million in bonuses.
“Before Counter-Defendant lied and before he or someone else leaked his lies to the media, Mr. Morant was a strong prospect for one of six All-NBA guard spots. That selection would be personally significant for Morant because it would trigger a ‘super max’ clause in his contract extension worth millions of dollars,” the filings said.
The Grizzlies begin their playoff run on Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers.