Jordan Poole definitely grabbed and pulled Ja Morant’s knee; whether he meant to hurt her is beside the point
The Golden State Warriors blasted the Memphis Grizzlies to a 2-1 series lead on Saturday, and that may not have been the only loss Memphis suffered. Ja Morant limped off the field with apparent right knee discomfort at 6:19 of the fourth quarter and did not return, and the Grizzlies are pretty adamant that Jordan Poole was responsible for Morant’s potential injury.
The game in question happened with just over seven minutes left in the game. Morant found himself double-teamed near half court by Poole and Andrew Wiggins. Poole dropped the ball, and as Morant and Wiggins raced for possession, Poole quite clearly grabbed Morant’s right knee and pulled him back.
You can see in the screenshot overlay that Morant tweeted “broke the code” in a clear shot at Steve Kerr, who has taken “he broke the code” jabs at Dillon Brooks right and left since. that Brooks took out a mid-air Gary Payton II, which fractured his elbow, early in Game 2 with a wild swing to the head. Morant quickly deleted the tweet, but the Grizzlies’ feelings on this Poole game are clear.
“We just watched the replay,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins told reporters. “He was going after a dribble and Jordan Poole actually grabbed his knee and pulled him which kind of triggered everything that happened so I’m going to be very curious what happens after that .”
Jenkins said the Grizzlies will consider asking the league to review Poole’s actions, with the implication perhaps that the act will prove worthy of a suspension, as was the case with Brooks, who was suspended for Game 3 after his hit on Payton.
Of course, everyone with the Warriors scoffs at the idea that what Poole did can be considered dirty play. Stephen Curry said it was no joke that Morant could be hurt, but that there was “no comparison” between what Poole did, which Curry said was “nothing malicious ‘, and what Brooks did to Payton, adding that the suggestion that Poole did anything dirty is ‘total BS’.
So here’s the deal: it’s not BS. You can’t watch this video and come to any conclusion other than Poole definitely grabbed Morant’s knee and pulled him back. Was he trying to hurt Morant? I seriously doubt it. My guess is Poole dropped the ball and, in an impulsive attempt to prevent Morant from getting it back, thus giving teammate Andrew Wiggins a better shot, he grabbed Morant’s knee to hold it off.
If Poole had grabbed Morant’s jersey and pulled him back, it would simply have been a foul. But he didn’t grab his jersey. He grabbed his knee. Then shot it. It’s dangerous. There are no two ways to do it.
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Intent to hurt is not the issue here. Brooks certainly had no intention of hurting Payton either. He saw a guy do a dunk and he wanted to stop him from doing it. He took a wild swing to try to prevent an opponent from scoring, not to hurt the guy. But he hurt him. He took that risk by deciding to swing near a guy’s head. You speed down the highway and fall into a wreck that injures someone, your reckless actions are at fault, even though you didn’t intend to hurt them in the first place.
At this point, I hope Morant is not injured. If he is, we don’t even know for sure that it was the game that caused the injury. Maybe it was an earlier possession.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if Poole’s knee grab is actually what injured Morant’s knee, or potentially aggravated an earlier injury, or even if Morant turns out to be injury-free, which we all hope be the case. What matters is what Poole did and the potential he had to injure an opposing player. The knees are no joke. You cannot grab and pull the knees. You can clearly see Morant’s knee bend in the wrong direction.
Players do this kind of impulsive thing from time to time when trying to gain possession, or often when desperately trying to avoid losing possession. Earlier in the match, Desmond Bane lost the ball and in an effort to prevent Poole from getting it back, he dove headfirst straight into Poole’s lap.
Earlier in the series, Morant was beaten from the dribble and swung his knee directly into Curry’s knee and tripped him.
Again, these are impulsive games that happen more than you think. Grayson Allen has been tripping up opponents since college. But two wrongs don’t make a good deal. Just because what Poole did was more subtle than what Brooks did to Payton doesn’t mean it was okay. Poole called it a “basketball game”. I assure you there is no game of basketball that involves grabbing an opponent’s knee and pulling them backwards. Is Morant hurt? Let’s hope not. Was Poole trying to hurt Morant? Never mind. He took the risk with his actions, and now, if Memphis does indeed ask the league to consider suspending Poole, he may have to pay for it.