Grizzlies’ Ja Morant ejected vs. Thunder after he ‘questioned the integrity of the officials’
Memphis Grizzlies superstar Ja Morant was ejected from the team’s 115-109 loss Saturday night on the road against the Oklahoma City Thunder with 43 seconds left in the second quarter after receiving his second technical of the night. At the time of the ejection, it was unclear exactly why the technical was called, and not long after Morant was sent back to the locker room the All-Star guard began retweeting comments on Twitter from people who were equally surprised about him getting tossed.
However, after the game, the crew chief for the contest, John Goble, explained the ejection, saying Morant received his second technical for making a comment which “questioned the integrity of the officials.”
The ejection came as the Thunder’s Eugene Omoruyi was shooting free throws, and you could see Morant talking to someone off court while a referee was standing next to him. Shortly after, the official called the Grizzlies star for his second technical, which results in an automatic ejection.
The Oklahoman’s Joe Mussatto explained on Twitter that a Grizzlies fan sitting courtside was telling Morant “let’s go” as the team was down by 21 points at the time. The fan then said Morant’s response was: “He was just like, he can’t do much because [the refs] missed a call.” After Morant said that, official Ray Acosta tossed him from the game.
When Goble was asked if Morant’s technical was assessed as a result of conversation or actions to the crowd, the crew chief simply answered, “No.”
Morant was shocked after the second technical, with several of his teammates pleading with the officials that he was talking to a fan sitting courtside, not a referee. Shortly after Morant’s ejection, Dillon Brooks also received a technical. Morant received a technical just a minute prior to his second one for arguing a no-call with a referee.
Once Morant was sent back to the locker room, his father, Tee Morant, who was in attendance at the game brought his phone over to the fan while he was FaceTiming his son so the two could chat.
After the game, Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins declined to discuss the explanation he received from officials on the technical.
“I’ll keep that private,” Jenkins said. “Thunder played great, we just didn’t make enough shots tonight. They played well.”
This marks the second time within recent weeks that Morant has been ejected, the last time coming in a Nov. 30 contest against the Minnesota Timberwolves where he was arguing with a referee which got him tossed automatically without receiving a prior technical. Morant was fined $35,000 by the league for inappropriate language toward a referee which led to his ejection. The two technicals Saturday night brings Morant’s total up to seven on the season, which is fourth-most in the league, right behind Brooks who now has eight.