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Grizzlies Insider: Memphis and Morant are talk of the basketball world
 
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Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) reacts during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets in November 2021. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
 

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) reacts during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets in November 2021. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

Welcome back to your Grizzlies Insider, where the season has begun and we deliver the latest NBA news and analysis straight to your inbox twice a week.

If your Twitter timeline looks anything like the rest of The Daily Memphian’s staff, it is probably just a collection of Ja Morant highlights and All-Star votes.

Which, honestly, is probably how it should be. 

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That’s because Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies are not only the talk of the NBA, but the entire sports world in the week leading up to the NFL playoffs. 

They woke up on Thursday in sole possession of third place in the Western Conference (Utah just keeps losing) and have arrived ahead of schedule as a team capable of contending at this very moment. 

There is so much being said about the team, and so much going on around the team, that I have decided to attempt to throw it all together here. I’ll try not to miss anything. 

Here we go:

The Grizzlies beat the Warriors on Tuesday and Ja Morant stared down two kids in Golden State jerseys in the closing seconds. After the game, he called them disrespectful for wearing the other team’s apparel and offered to give them his own jersey. 

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Well, Memphis hasn’t found them. So instead, they are letting the first 250 kids turn in old NBA jerseys from an opposing player in exchange for a Morant or Jaren Jackson Jr. replica jersey. It’s freaking brilliant. 

Speaking of brilliant, so was Kendrick Perkins’ latest segment on ESPN show “NBA Today.” Big Perk has gone from Grizzlies playoff villain to their biggest supporter. 

He got out of his chair, shouting, “I know y’all didn’t think I was about to be humble,” before giving a diatribe to the camera about all those that didn’t believe Morant was an MVP candidate a month ago. He had the rest of the television crew belly laughing. 

And by the way, the point guard is totally an MVP candidate now. He’s top five in odds to win the award according to every major sportsbook, and he’s the runaway favorite to win the NBA’s Most Improved Player honor. 

You still following? We’re only getting started!

Another update to the NBA All-Star fan vote is coming today. Memphis fans will sure hope that Morant has closed the gap between himself and Luka Doncic for the second guard spot in the West.

 

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) controls the ball against Los Angeles Lakers guard Talen Horton-Tucker (5), center Dwight Howard and forward LeBron James, right, during the Grizzlies’ game on Sunday, Jan. 9. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

His viral block against the Lakers last week, which topped more than 13 million views on the NBA’s Instagram account in a single day, should help his case. So should his team’s 29-14 record. 

Television personalities like Skip Bayless, Jalen Rose, Nick Wright and Michael Wilbon all weighed in on the Grizzlies’ and Morant’s rise. Former point guard great Magic Johnson even called Morant the most exciting player in the league. 

Look them up if you would like. But the gist is simple: Morant is awesome at basketball, and it’s about dang time the Grizzlies are considered a top tier team in their conference. 

So, clearly, the Memphis bandwagon still has space for more. Although, Morant did tweet on Wednesday that he will remember those cheering for him when there wasn’t much to cheer for.

Those people would be considered the “real ones,” which Grizzlies forward Xavier Tillman Sr. described at the team’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on Wednesday. They are kicking people’s butts on the court and helping people off it. 

So what a week it has been for the Grizzlies already, and there are two more games left to go. 

Stay in the action and follow us on the Daily Memphian Sports Facebook page. If you’re a Daily Memphian subscriber, we appreciate your support. If not, consider signing up for unlimited access to all of our sports coverage.


More from your Insider:


Grizzlies offer tickets, jersey exchange for kids following Morant stare down

Ja Morant wanted a kid to trade in his Steph Curry jersey for one of his own. The Grizzlies are now opening the offer to the first 250 kids 12 and younger.

Listen to Grizzlies writers discuss how far Ja Morant can take the team

The Grizzlies announced to the world that they are Western Conference contenders on Tuesday night. Chris Herrington and Drew Hill break it down. 

Calkins: Grizzlies stare down Steph, the Warriors — and any skeptics who remain

Why did Ja Morant stare down that little kid? Because he was wearing a Golden State jersey. And as the Warriors learned Tuesday night, this Grizzlies team is going to demand your respect. 

Xavier Tillman Sr.: Grizzlies love their city because it has 'real ones'

Xavier Tillman Sr. said it’s not the national attention that is the most fun. It’s the players’ bond that has grown since the beginning of the season.

Domestic assault, vandalism charges against Tony Allen dismissed

The dismissal came after Allen and his wife, Desiree, the victim in the Nov. 28 incident, appeared in court together Tuesday afternoon with attorney Leslie Ballin. 

Grizzlies beat Warriors for 10th straight win

Ja Morant scored 29 points as the Grizzlies, “the new sheriff in town,” rallied against one of the best teams in the league. 

Herrington: Grizzlies-Warriors a Hollywood-style reboot worthy of original

Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, once the upstarts, come to town to meet (again) the brash upstarts of Morant, Jackson and Bane. 

Ja Morant repeats as Western Conference Player of the Week

Ja Morant is the first player this season to earn the honor in consecutive weeks. 

 
 
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