Memphis Grizzlies’ All-Star point guard Ja Morant dropped 41 points and eight assists in a win over the San Antonio Spurs Wednesday night. The Grizzlies versus Spurs game was supposed to be on national TV (ESPN) but was flexed in favor of the New York Knicks versus Miami Heat. Morant felt some type of way about it and “thanked” whoever made the decision to remove the Grizzlies from national TV.
“Shoutout to whoever took us off TV,” Morant said postgame. “Appreciate you for that. That game right there was for you too. You want to take us off … I don’t know what went into that.”
For context the NBA’s current broadcast deal is set to expire with the 2024-25 season. The NBA is working on its next deal and hopes the totality of the deal is worth over $75 billion. Roughly $8 billion per year.
Whichever streaming platform or network decides to purchase the broadcast rights wants to ensure they are getting a good return, i.e. ratings. Memphis is the 51st ranked media market according to Nielsen, and the NBA’s smallest.
No doubt the decision to move flex the Grizzlies and Spurs off national TV, had something to do with ratings. Though in the Grizzlies’ limited national TV games (two) this year the audience peaked at 1.05 million viewers.
Whatever the reason it was all the fuel Morant needed. He and the Grizzlies play with a chip on their shoulder and don’t adhere to the idea that they are a young team making noise. They believe they’ve arrived and are one of the best teams in the NBA.
It’s hard to argue they’re not.
The Grizzlies have the third-best record in the league at 33-17. They are the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. They rank seventh, seventh, and ninth in aNET, aORTG and aDRTG respectively.
Morant is the All-Star, leading scorer, and MVP candidate. But this is no one man band.
Jaren Jackson Jr. anchors the defense. He is fifth in the NBA in total contested shots, he’s second in total blocks, second in block percentage and third in blocks per game. In addition, shooters are shooting 13.6 percent worse from within 10 feet with him as the primary defender. He has made a strong case for all-defensive team honors. And he’s averaging 16.5 points per game for good measure.
Dillon Brooks and Desmond Bane are the other double digit scorers on the team. Brooks provides the moxie and toughness, along with Morant, as he often guards the opponent’s best perimeter player. Bane is built like a linebacker and is a terror in the open court and shoots it at 41 percent from three on almost seven attempts per game.
Wednesday night’s game was also meaningful for Morant as his grandmother, who is battling cancer, is struggling.
“I just had to go out there and battle. Knowing she’s watching, knowing I couldn’t be there with her right now, I had to put on a performance.”
Morant was able to fly out and see her on Thursday and posted a message on Twitter.
with my grandma 🙌🏽 today was much needed for the both of us. appreciate all the love 🖤🤞🏽 she's a warrior. #Goddagreatest 🙏🏽
— Ja Morant (@JaMorant) January 27, 2022
More news from our partners: