It’s been 60 days since Markieff Morris last played an NBA game.
The reason... we all know by
now, don’t we?
It was common to hear reactions from NBA Twitter, "Inside The
NBA" and others that suggested Jokić was in the right and/or
Morris deserved it. While Morris can’t entirely be absolved because
of the needless take foul beforehand, the entire ordeal and
aftermath are worth revisiting precisely two months
Secondly, the comments embody what we’re talking about. People
saying a variation of Morris getting what he deserved, applauding
Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley for defending Jokić’s right to
obliterate Morris from behind — we’ll get to that momentarily.
Not too many combinations of jokes were directed at Morris, who
apparently was faking his injury, right? So much so that he still
hasn’t played since.
Now, the "Inside" guys.
The first thing Charles Barkley said was, “I love this.”
Less than a minute later, O’Neal added, “I like what The Joker
Asked by Ernie Johnson to expand, Barkley emphatically
interjected, rhetorically asking, “What did Joker do?”
Johnson replied, “Gave him (Morris) a shot in the back and
And Shaq contributed, “First of all, Ernie, it’s called
retaliation. When you hit me, don’t turn around. Don’t turnaround,
because I’m swinging,” with a laugh.
Kenny Smith attempted to provide a more levelheaded take,
saying, “We would hope that Joker could have some self-restraint.”
He was then immediately shot down by O’Neal and Barkley, and the
There’s absolutely something to what O’Neal and Barkley said
regarding retaliation, self-defense and sending a message.
Additionally, there’s some arrogance in leveling someone and
immediately turning around, thinking you’re untouchable as a
result. Not great from Keef, there.
And as bad as the neck injury has been for Morris, it could’ve
been worse — a stretcher was even brought out as a precaution.
Luckily, he was able to walk off.
And, look, we’ve all been to an emotional point where
the subsequent actions we took were regrettable, so this ain’t
finger-wagging more than an observation and reevaluation.
Jokić, at 6-foot-11, 284 pounds, has a distinct size advantage
over Morris' listed 6-foot-9,
245-pound frame, so throwing his entire body weight into an
unsuspecting Morris from behind is especially threatening. You’d
probably say Morris put himself in that danger, but even Jokić —
clearly not being in his right mind at the time — has to know that
he can’t charge into Morris from behind like that, which he
admitted after. It isn’t like the foul was from behind, either.
“It’s a stupid play,” Jokic said, seemingly with regret. “I feel
bad. I’m not supposed to react that way, but it’s in the middle of
the game. I got hit, I saw him, but I just thought it was gonna be
like a take foul... I thought [what Morris did] was a dirty play,
and I just needed to protect myself. I fouled him bad, and I’m not
supposed to react that way.”
He later added, insisting his feelings were genuine, “No, I felt
bad, for real... his head snapped back, so I feel really bad.”
In the Orlando Bubble, and in similar fashion, Jokić was upset
about a non-call against 6-foot Patrick Beverley, and frustration
fouled him on a break by... trying to Rick Flair
chop him? In the Nuggets-Blazers 2019 playoff
series, he elbowed the sh*t out of Enes
Kanter. (Depending on who you ask, he might’ve been ahead of
his time. Lots of people would, and I.... I understand.)
Jokić also had a bumping/shoving match with Marcus, Keef’s twin,
two years ago.
This isn’t to say Jokić is a bad dude or an a**hole. Things
happen, and different athletes have different ways of expressing
themselves. But if people are going to hold up Morris’ past, this
should go both ways. And all of these things can co-exist — this
doesn’t have to be some tribal, side-taking nonsense.
Revisiting all this is not to say we should retroactively ban
Jokić for an extended period, but we should reevaluate how we
process these things both in the moment and afterward. Morris still
hasn’t played. I don’t care how much you don’t like the dude and
the misguided, non-productive nature of his foul — he didn’t
deserve to get hurt and obviously hasn’t been faking an injury. (In
the moment, I thought Jokić would get suspended 3-to-5 games, so
one game appeared light at the time, for what it’s worth.)
A question lingers in my mind: How would people have reacted if
this were reversed? I’m not even going to Black and white, but more
specifically: What if Morris did this to Jokić? Clearly, people
would’ve been coming for Morris’ head since he’s a role player,
Jokić is a superstar, and plenty of y’all don’t like the Morris
twins to begin with.
Well, it’s been eight weeks since the encounter with The Joker.
At 32 years old, hopefully, he’ll be able to reclaim what he
established earlier, which has turned out to be his best
season in three years. And ideally, Jokić could, as he himself
indicated, collect himself a tad better before endangering
someone else in this fashion.