For those who don't remember the situation, which was me until about 5 minutes ago, Ja Morant is currently in Civil Court from that time he punched a kid during a game of pickup basketball at his house. You might be thinking, "Why would any multi-millionaire NBA player in his right mind punch a kid?" Easy answer. Ja Morant is crazy, and sometimes kids suck. Often times they suck. I'd go as far to say that most kids suck. Who among us hasn't felt the urge to assault a child? Maybe they're kicking the back of your seat on the plane. Or screaming on a plane. Or if they're on your plane at all. Something about a kid on a plane really grinds my gears. You obviously can't do anything about it. As much as you'd like throw back a couple $12 Jack Daniels mini shots, rip off your trey table, and smack the child across the mouth, you just can't do that. It's wildly inappropriate. But I understand the urge. Unfortunately, the rarely level-headed Ja Morant couldn't control himself.
I'm reading through the transcript of this trial right now. It's very funny. I'm not going to post the whole thing here, but I recommend you read it. Here's the part where Ja Morant is questioned about the incident in detail.
Morant is now talking about the incident, which he says was between games. Morant says Holloway set the ball at his feet.
"That's disrespectful," Morant said. "Setting the ball at your feet in a check ball situation is disrespectful."
Morant and Holloway were at the top of the three point line doing the check ball, Morant says. It was later in the evening and the temperature was cooling down, he says.
Morant says he rolled the ball to Holloway to properly check it, and bystanders were asking for the game to start. Holloway rolled it back to Morant, who then threw a chest pass at Holloway. Then Holloway "fired the ball" at Morant, who said the pass from Holloway was a one-handed throw that hit the left side of his face.
The throw caught Morant by surprise, he says Morant says there are many ways to apologize, including asking if the person hit was alright or slapping your own chest to say it's your fault. Morant said Holloway did none of these things.
"Him pulling up his shorts, where I'm from, that's a fighting stance," Morant says, adding that Holloway took a step towards him.
Carter now has the basketball again to demonstrate the check ball. Morant says he threw a bounce pass, with backspin, to Holloway. Now they're demonstrating the incident, where Carter and Morant meet chest to chest — as Morant said Holloway did — adding that Morant thought Holloway was about to hit him.
"So I hit him first, to protect myself," Morant says.
Nothing overly special about that interaction. I'd imagine that same scene goes down once a day at any busy basketball court in America. This kid was almost certainly getting worked up and down the court by Ja Morant, he got sick and tired of it, and whipped the ball full speed at his face. He stepped towards Ja and pulled up his pants, which we all know is the international signal for, "I'm about to hit you." But before he was able to swing, Ja popped him one first. He was probably quicker because he's one of the best adult basketball players in the world, and his opponent was a child. Again, you can't do that Ja. That's how you end up in kangaroo court. But that all seems pretty self-explanatory.
However, this lawyer wasn't going to let the court take their word for it. Maybe some people in the court room don't understand how check ball works. Maybe some of the jury members are under the impression that a full-speed overhand tomahawk at your opponents face from roughly 5 feet away is how a pass is made. So he wanted to give the court a visual example of how check ball should be done.
I think I know exactly what this lawyer is doing. This lawyer saw an opportunity. How many chances in life do you get to toss the ball around with an NBA Superstar? To hit Ja Morant square in the letters with a casual chest pass. On camera no less. Who could pass that up? Maybe if you really impress him, he'll personally invite you to one of his famous backyard basketball fist fights. Maybe you'll even get a tryout with the Grizzlies. If this lawyer is smart, he'll probably end up tricking Ja Morant into an autograph.
"Oh, I'm sorry Mr. Morant. Just one more thing. For record keeping purposes. Would you mind stating your name for the court one more time? Ok.. ok… how is that spelled? Yeah, you know what, just to be safe, would you mind writing that down on this commemorative Memphis Grizzlies basketball for me? I have a Sharpie right here. Just do it how you'd normally sign your name on a basketball. Ok yeah thanks I'll hold onto this for the court."
Civil Court is a weird place.