FOX Sports' Shannon Sharpe to Ja Morant: 'You're not about that life. Stop pretending'
A day after a report that Ja Morant's associates confronted members of the Indiana Pacers and someone trained a red laser on several of the team's traveling party, FOX Sports analyst Shannon Sharpe criticized the star guard of the Memphis Grizzlies for his response to the NBA investigating the matter.
On his show "Undisputed" Monday, Sharpe chided the Morant about his friends and trying to put forth a harder image than what he is as an All-Star basketball player and one of the NBA's bright young stars.
"I wish Ja would realize he's not a thug. Ja is a really good basketball player. Ja did everything he could to lift himself and his family out of this environment and to get away from this," Sharpe said. "And for some reason, he wants to surround himself with these types of people. Why? Bruh, you not hard. That's not your life. People that (are) in that life would give anything to be in your life.
Acquaintances of Ja Morant reportedly aggressively confronted members of the Pacers organization:
"I wish Ja would realize he's not a thug. You're not about that life! No one looks at you and thinks you're hood. Stop pretending!!" — @ShannonSharpe pic.twitter.com/YSmx9lJKjC
— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) February 6, 2023
"You got a $200 million contract and you want people in the NBA to think you hood, to think you gangsta because you roll with these type of people. Bruh, you're putting yourself in harm's way when you don't have to. Nobody looks at you, Ja, and thinks man that's a thug, he's hood, he's down, he's about that. You not. Stop pretending!"
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Morant's best friend Davonte Pack, according to The Athletic, approached the Pacers on Jan. 29 along with several others in the loading area of FedExForum. The two sides exchanged words and were separated by security. When Morant arrived, he, Pack and others got into an SUV and according to the Pacers, someone pointed a red laser at them.
Three people quoted in the story believed it was a gun but didn't see a weapon. The NBA released a statement saying it could not corroborate that anyone had a weapon but confirmed there was a postgame confrontation that resulted in multiple people being banned from attending home Grizzlies games.
Morant confirmed on Twitter that Pack had been banned for at least the rest of the season.
Sharpe, who got into a verbal altercation with the Grizzlies last month at a Los Angeles Lakers game, added that actions like that could put Morant and his family in trouble. It doesn't need to be that way because he's a talented basketball player and the Grizzlies have greater concerns on the court.
"What you're going about, pretending like you're down like that, that you tote, that you carry, bruh, you're putting yourself in harm's way," Sharpe said. "It's not a good look for you. Stop this man. This is not not you. I mean, you play basketball to get out of this environment."
ESPN analyst Brian Windhorst took it a step further on Zach Lowe's podcast Monday. On "The Lowe Post," he noted that between Dillon Brooks' suspension and the Grizzlies losing eight of their last nine games, the team is "borderline out of control."
He compared it to how San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had a concept of healthy fear motivating his teams to handle their business because they know any team can beat them. The Grizzlies' confidence is a weapon but he also sees a downside from it leading to lack of poise combining with a lack of experience.
"Their being out of control is causing all kinds of problems," Windhorst said. "As you just said, if you're going to win three playoff series or four to win the (NBA championship), you've got to show control and they are not in control. And Ja is not in control. And it's worrisome."
This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Shannon Sharpe to Ja Morant after Pacers incident: 'Stop pretending'