Markieff Morris returns to Heat after 58 games missed due to whiplash from Nikola Jokic hit
Markieff Morris has returned from what has somehow become one of the NBA's most controversial injuries.
The Miami Heat forward appeared in his first game since Nov. 8 on Saturday, playing 17 minutes and recording six points. He played several minutes down the stretch in a close fourth quarter, with the Heat eventually losing 113-104 to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
It had been a long wait for Morris, who sustained whiplash from a run-in with Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic. The injury occurred when Morris fouled Jokic hard, only to have Jokic charge into him with his back turned as he walked away. Let's just say fans, and both players' brothers, had disagreements over who was more at fault.
The NBA suspended Jokic one game for the incident, but Morris, who was also fined, obviously ended up paying the larger price.
Nikola Jokic clobbers Markieff Morris from behind late in the fourth quarter and things get intense. pic.twitter.com/9RclknqIKB
— Bally Sports Sun: HEAT (@BallyHEAT) November 9, 2021
Morris wasn't initially thought to be seriously injured, but it eventually became clear that something was wrong, especially in light of a neck injury Morris sustained in 2019. Morris took a public shot at Jokic in January after he hit 30 games missed and remained sidelined for months.
By February, it was feared Morris was out for the season, as the Heat were reportedly uneasy about clearing him to play. Per the Miami Herald, the Heat asked the NBA to assess Morris' readiness to play via a Fitness to Play panel, a group of three doctors selected by the league, players union and independent source.
The panel cleared Miami of liability in the event of Morris, who had been practicing and pushing to play, sustaining another neck injury.
With the injury finally behind him, Morris told the Herald he would like to move on from Jokic:
“For the first two weeks, I probably didn’t sleep based on that happening to me and not being able to control the situation,” Morris said. “One of the first times in my life I couldn’t control something. I moved past it. It took me a while. My grandfather called me a bunch of times and told me to move on. That’s what I did.”
Of course, he still had some choice words when asked if Jokic ever called him:
“[Expletive] no, I don’t want to hear from him,” Morris said.