Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant is one of the best young players in the NBA, and just about anyone who follows basketball could tell you that. His own father will never admit it, however.
Morant has said in the past that his father, Tee, was his first “hater.” What he means by that is that his dad is always pushing him to be better and never wants to inflate his son’s ego. In an entertaining appearance on the “Pardon My Take” podcast this week, Morant shed some light on his relationship with his old man.
“I think when I won Rookie of the Year his message after was, ‘Good job, you still suck,'” Morant recalled. “There isn’t too much I can do to make him say something positive.”
Morant did say that Tee told him how proud he was of Ja after the former Murray State star’s first two NBA seasons. Ja says Tee told him “you know I don’t do this, but I’m proud of you” and then started laughing.
Tee was also a star basketball player and played with Ray Allen in high school. Despite that, Ja says his father refuses to play him 1-on-1 now.
“He won’t play me no more. I beat him last time when we had this kids vs. adults game,” Morant recalled. “I hit the game-winner and he won’t play me no more … Once I got a little taller and more athletic he would never play me 1-on-1.”
Tee gave up his own basketball career when Morant’s mother, Jamie, became pregnant with Ja. After Morant was drafted second overall in 2019, he became emotional while talking about the work his father has put in with him (video here). The two are obviously extremely close.
Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant’s father endured racist heckling from a group of Utah Jazz fans during the Grizzlies’ first round series against the team. It turns out that after the Jazz eliminated the Grizzlies, he’s pulling for them to go a lot further.
Tee Morant was heard telling Jazz star Donovan Mitchell after Wednesday’s Utah victory that he hoped Utah went on to win the championship, crediting the organization for how it handled the vulgar fans earlier in the series.
“Hey yo, I’m going for y’all right now,” Tee Morant told Mitchell courtside after Utah’s win. “Why? Y’all didn’t have to do that. Y’all didn’t have to show love to us like that.
“This is what I’m saying: When s— goes bad and then you reach out, that’s how you bridge the gap. Most people don’t realize that. That’s why I appreciate you, and that’s why I hope the Jazz win the championship.”
Mitchell told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon that he had a great deal of respect for Morant and his family, and was very appreciative for the support.
“For me, it was just the ultimate sign of respect,” Mitchell said. “You see him talking about the way he handled it, the way we went about it. For me, that’s just how you approach it. Things are going to happen, and you’ve got to show a side of gratitude — bridging that gap, like he said.
“The fact that he’s pulling for us is dope. We appreciate it. There’s just a lot of respect. Hard-fought series. I feel like Ja and I are going to have battles for a long time in our careers. This was just the first one, but there’s just a lot of respect all around.”
The Jazz swiftly banned three fans for directing racist and vulgar taunts at Morant’s family during Game 2 in Utah. Clearly, Tee Morant was more than satisfied with the organization’s response to the incident.