The Grizzlies’ season may be over, but Tee Morant still has a rooting interest moving forward in the NBA playoffs.
The father of second-year Grizzlies star Ja Morant was seen talking with Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell in the aftermath of Thursday’s 126-110 win for Utah, which gave the team a 4-1 series victory and eliminated Memphis from the playoffs. During the exchange, Morant said he would root for the Jazz after the organization reacted to racist, vulgar harassment aimed at him and his wife earlier in the series.
The video, from ESPN’s Tim McMahon:
Tee Morant to Donovan Mitchell: “Y’all didn’t have to show us love like that. … That’s why I hope the Jazz win the championship.”
Mitchell told ESPN, “For me, it was just the ultimate sign of respect.”
ESPN story: https://t.co/5iIPCGO485 pic.twitter.com/O977v5bB0d
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) June 3, 2021
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“I’m going for y’all right now. Why? Y’all didn’t have to do that, y’all didn’t have to show love to us like that,” Morant tells Mitchell. “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.
“Hey, keep killing it, my guy.”
Mitchell, who had 30 points and 10 assists in Game 5, told ESPN after the fact that he considered Morant’s words “the ultimate sign of respect.”
“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.”
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Mitchell was one of several people inside the Jazz organization who publicly apologized for racist, vulgar treatment Morant and his wife experienced from Utah fans during Game 2 of the series. Those fans have been indefinitely banned from attending Jazz games as a result.
Morant detailed the altercation to McMahon, saying that, while the majority of Utah fans were great, three fans went “beyond heckling” in talking to him and his family. He said one fan said something sexually explicit to his wife, Jamie. Another told him, “I’ll put a nickel in your back and watch you dance, boy.” A third yelled at Jamie, “Shut the f— up, b—.”
The Jazz offered complimentary court-side seats, travel arrangements and lodging to the Morant family after the altercation, which Ja Morant’s mother refused.
“She said her anxiety couldn’t take it,” Tee Morant said.
The Jazz, the No. 1 overall seed in the NBA playoffs, will face the winner of the Mavericks-Clippers series next.