The Memphis Grizzlies are the NBA’s version of gluten-free; in other words, they are trending.
But the Grizz are much more than Ja Morant’s high-flying dunks. They’re a group of genuine dudes who’ve also proven a blast to watch. This article will highlight three players from the city of grind and why you should be cheering for them.
If you don’t like Morant’s highlights, you probably don’t appreciate basketball at its highest level.
His high-flying blocks, layups, and dunks feel like exactly what the NBA has been missing.
He’s the closest thing the league’s seen to D-Rose in nearly a decade.
But Morant’s so much more than that.
He’s also a person who’s willing to own his mistakes, which is a lost art in the modern era.
In the third contest of the season against the Lakers, the young phenom was fouled with time dwindling and had an opportunity at the free throw line to tie the game.
After making the first two, his third was a brick, and Memphis ended up losing the contest.
After the game, he is seen walking with his teammate and saying, “My fault, y’all.”
This simple act may be overlooked on SportsCenter, but it’s a sign of a humble alpha who understands his significance.
It’s probably easy for a lot of people to throw him into a category because of the way he looks and his style of play. But we should all recognize that he’s a solid bro off the court.
Or to paraphrase Jaren Jackson Jr. from an interview on the “ALL THE SMOKE” podcast.
“He’s not only our leader; he’s with us.”
The Medallion Award
Do you know who leads the league in blocks right now?
Actually, that was a trick question.
As it currently stands, there are three players tied at the top of the list, one of them being Jackson Jr. (Before Thursday’s games have been played).
His defensive leap is probably one of the biggest surprises in the NBA this season; he’s even a pretender to win Defensive Player of the Year.
His 7-foot-4 wingspan has proven a perfect complement next to Steven Adams. And the duo has guided Memphis to the seventh-best team defensive rating this season (108.8).
But Jackson’s so much more than that.
He’s also a huge advocate for voting rights. So much so that he was honored with a National Associations of Secretaries of State (NASS) Medallion Award. This honor was given to him because of his persistent advocacy in promoting and supporting voter engagement and participation.
But we probably should have expected this from him. It runs in his family.
His mom Terri Jackson is the executive director of the WNBPA, a league that has proven to be at the forefront of social justice issues.
She is the force that abolished player fines associated with wearing Black Lives Matter shirts.
Like Lil Wayne said, like mother, like son.
The Funny Guy
Have you ever met a person so tough that they don’t need to act tough?
Well, the Grizz have that guy, and his name is Adams.
The ex-rugby player has been cracking up the media since his days with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
But he also has an everyday man’s persona.
When a reporter asked him about living in “The Bubble,” he responded, “This is not Syria, mate.”
He later added, “We’re living in a bloody resort.”
But his funny side may be his best.
One example of this is when a media member tried to get him to answer a question about analytics.
His response, “I’m not a numbers guy, mate. I’ve got nothing upstairs.”
There’s also the moment where he lifted Tony Bradley to protect Morant during a late-game altercation. He literally lifted him like a child.
He’s part enforcer, part goofball, and all awesome.