Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant is one of the most exciting players in the NBA, with the ability to fly through the air like Vince Carter and the gamesmanship and scoring sense of Allen Iverson.
But there’s one problem, according to fans who are watching their beloved game disintegrate as the NBA refuses to enforce its own rules. Morant pulls off his magic by repeatedly traveling and carrying the ball. Many fans — and these are hardly curmudgeonly purists longing for Bob Cousy — are angry.
Below, Devin Williams — @DevInTheLab, “#1 Social Media snitch ref” — a hoops social media commenter who happens to be followed by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, shows Morant playing with what might be described as a contempt for the rules.
And why not? He is almost never called on any of these blatant violations.
Morant has to be stopped.— IN THE LAB (@DevInTheLab) December 6, 2022
Pure basketball has vanished from the earth and I’m snitching on everyone.
– the number 1 social media snitch ref pic.twitter.com/AaHdOuVhxw
“Pure basketball has vanished from the earth,” Williams writes, amusingly noting that though he loves his little son, he would never “carry” him that much.
Do you think the “contempt” for the rules is too strong? How else to describe someone who plays as if the rules don’t apply to him? Note: The rules rather unequivocally state that players inbound the ball from, well, out of bounds.
Ja Morant doesn’t come remotely close to legally inbounding the ball. Rules are for others pic.twitter.com/xhGgPZqHL8— Fastbreak Breakfast (@fastbreakbreak) November 13, 2021
But who can blame Morant? Travelling and carrying, if not the inbounds play, are a league-wide problem. Why should he follow rules that others don’t?
[Note: The NBA has shown some effort to contain the contagion, and the referees called twice as many travels per game in November as in October, when the figure was 1.7. Problem is there are more than 3.4 travels per game. There are often more than one travel/carry on a single possession.]
Like Morant, two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo also makes famously effective (illegal?) use of his steps, so much so that there is — of course! — a Twitter account devoted to his creativity called @TravelsGiannis.
GOT HIM! pic.twitter.com/yaFLpTT9bE— Giannis_Travels (@TravelsGiannis) February 10, 2020
Every once in a while, as above, the refs blow the whistle. But the players remain undeterred. You know that Silicon Valley mantra, “move fast and break things”? Fans who care are starting to feel like these fast movers are breaking the game.