The Memphis Grizzlies lost to the New Orleans Pelicans 113-102 on the road Tuesday night. During halftime of the TNT broadcast, NBA legend Charles Barkley took a moment to share his criticism of superstar Ja Morant. He claimed that Morant does not make his teammates better, saying “The next evolution for Ja is he's gotta make players around him better… I don't think he's added that to his game yet.”
Morant was not about to take that lying down. Shortly after the loss, Morant re-tweeted his response with one word: “Kneepads.”
Ja Morant responds to Charles Barkley after his comments prior to the Grizzlies-Pelicans game 👀 pic.twitter.com/ArfkDoWmcj
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) November 16, 2022
Morant dropped 36 points on 13-for-27 from the floor Tuesday night. He added eight rebounds, four assists, and three steals in defeat. One could argue what more do you want Morant to do. At this point, he is basically a human highlight reel, to which he added in the loss to the Pelicans.
But certain numbers appear to back up Barkley's comments. The Grizzlies finished last season 20-5 without Morant in the lineup last season. It's particularly very impressive what they accomplished last season considering Ja Morant missed so much time with injuries.
Ultimately, Memphis flamed out in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.
Morant would not be the first great player to be criticized for not improving the play of their teammates. Michael Jordan was once referred to in the same way. Early in his career, he was also a highlight-reel player but the Bulls could not find success in the postseason.
Nevertheless, it's still hard to argue that the Grizzlies are better without him on the floor.