Are lawyers in Ja Morant's case really dissecting how one checks the ball in pick-up games?

Are lawyers in Ja Morant's case really dissecting how one checks the ball in pick-up games?

Ja Morant’s life has become a theater of the absurd and that continued Monday. Instead of executing crisp crossovers while Kyrie Irving plays ragged defense, Morant is finishing his 25-game suspension and was taking part in cross examinations and scuffing up courtroom wood. As a consequence, Morant was forced to go through the motions of a ridiculous hearing that was such a legal snoozefest, that hopefully it compels him to stop looking for problems.

Contrary to the beliefs of irrational apologist’s, Morant’s original sin was not playing with pistols or water guns on IG Live. It was his alleged assault and threat he made against a teenager last summer on the full-sized basketball court he honed his own game on. Morant has admitted that both he and Devontae Pack checked Holloway in the colloquial sense by punching him, which already sounds a bit excessive. Of greater concern was Holloway telling Shelby County Sheriff’s Office detectives that, after the fight, Morant went into his house and reemerged with a gun visible in the waistband of his pants and his hand on the weapon.

Pack’s misdemeanor charge was dropped in July, however, the issue of Morant’s civil immunity had to be adjudicated. Morant along with his father, Tee Morant, and Pack, arrived for a pretrial hearing at Shelby County Circuit Court in Memphis on the issue.

So what did we learn in Monday’s pre-trial hearing?

During the hearing, Morant’s lawyers took the stance that their client was immune from liability under Tennessee’s “stand your ground law.” Under Tennessee statutes, “Stand your Ground: removes the duty to retreat before using deadly force in self-defense when a person is not engaged in unlawful activity and is in a place where a person has a right to be.

When asked if he felt remorse for the incident, Morant said, “Probably not,” Morant responded. “I was protecting myself.”

Which brings us to why Morant was doing passing drills in court.

Holloway’s attorney Rebecca Adelman walked into court carrying a basketball, but without BallHog gloves, according to Commercial Appeal columnist Geoff Jenkins. Morant’s attorney opted for an outside ball that would have been used on Tee’s court while Holloway’s brought an inside ball to court, which should have earned her points with the judge.

Eventually, Morant testified that a basketball was a lethal weapon, which is objectively absurd and also makes one question how the courtroom security allowed both attorneys to bring their own fully-loaded, semi-automatic (in the hands of a skilled shooter) Wilson balls into the courtroom.

Morant’s counsel, Keenan Carter, used him to demonstrate the proper way to “check ball” as if this were a sportsmanship infomercial.

Grizzlies sharpshooter Mike Miller was also present during the fight. Miller, who is a former Rookie of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year and two-time champion as LeBron James’ brotha from anotha motha 4L, is now the head coach at Houston High. Miller will later testify about what occurred by deposition.

According to The Commercial Appeal’s Mark Giannotto, Miller was deposed for 90 minutes about issues such as the fundamentals of a check ball. “In a normal check ball, it’s just to make sure everyone is ready,” Miller said.

“So when you check the ball, me and you are playing one-on-one, I check the ball to you, before you hand it back to me (and) everyone is ready to play.”

There are not nearly as many non-stop thrills involved in courtroom drama as Dick Wolf makes it seem and there’s a reason Law & Order: Civil Trials never took off. In fact, the only interesting revelations were the attorneys getting the chance to show off their skills for stretching an anecdote.

At one point in the proceedings, Adelman aired clips of Morant nearly dunking over Kevin Love in 2020 and exclaimed, “Look at that arm! That is the arm — that is the force, the kind of force, that came at Mr. Holloway.”

I’ve seen Morant commit quite a few aerial assaults, but never realized it could be used in a courtroom against him. If true, this is monumental and akin to Young Thug lyrics being used against him in a RICO case. Every slasher like Zach Lavine could be registered as a lethal weapon like a professional boxer’s hands. (and maybe we shouldn’t call athletic wings slashers anymore). For what it’s worth, Love is also an expert on Stand Your Ground laws of the NBA variety, aka the thin line between blocks and charges.

Adelman attempted to drop a bar in court by referencing Morant’s “sportsfluenza,” which she said “demonstrates such a high degree of excellence in sports, but does not suffer any typical repercussions from their bad behavior.”

It’s actually an apt description for the behavior that has Morant in court instead of on one Monday. Talking heads are going to steal that one.

Holloway is now a guard for Samford after spending his senior season at Oak Hill, which means there’s a growing chance he uses this incident to propel him through college and onto an NBA roster where we eventually see him and Morant settle this on a court. As mundane as this trial may end up being, Monday’s proceedings and Memphis guard Mikey Williams’ recent plea to firearms charges, should serve as another revelation that Morant needs to get his act together before he’s in there for something far more serious.

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.