Gilbert Arenas has a reputation for being a hot take machine, but his latest remarks on Ja Morant were quite illuminating and brought into focus the future state of the NBA. He believes the troubled Grizzlies star is the one most equipped to succeed LeBron James as face of the NBA.
“The only person who has the charisma, the style, is the one who’s getting in trouble. It’s Ja Morant,” the three-time All-Star said on Gil's Arena Tuesday. “He might not be mentally ready.”
“The only person who has the charisma, the style, is the one who’s getting in trouble. It’s Ja Morant… He might not be mentally ready.”
Gilbert Arenas thinks that Ja Morant could be the face of the NBA once LeBron James retires 🤔
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) May 31, 2023
The question is one neither the league nor many fans want to answer, but the storied LeBron era is nearing its end. A new definitive top guy does not necessarily need to be crowned, as there is a plethora of superstars like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid who can share the responsibility. But the NBA is at its most profitable and globally influential when it has a transcendent force representing the brand.
Arenas clearly believes Morant's full-throttle intensity and fearless mentality makes him the most suitable to carry that illustrious mantle, but Commissioner Adam Silver likely has a safer, controversy-averse player in mind to promote the game. With his recent legal troubles, it may seem bold to even weigh in on Morant's future at all.
The two-time All-Star point guard is currently serving a suspension after another gun incident. The NBA is expected to come down hard on the issue given that he is now a repeat offender. Regardless of how many games Morant is forced to miss, he will not be marketed as “The Guy” in the immediate future.
Assuming he changes his lifestyle off the court while maintaining the same grit and electricity on the court, though, the 23-year-old will have another opportunity to vie for the honor. The Grizzlies, their fans, and the sport are desperate for Ja Morant to undergo a drastic transformation.