Watch Ja Morant get ejected for... talking to a courtside fan?
There have been a few of these this NBA season, but if you’re looking for the new top of the list of “official needlessly ejects player” moments, look no further.
Late in the second quarter of the Thunder’s win over the Grizzlies, Ja Morant picked up his first technical for allegedly using profanity toward referee Ray Acosta after fouling Isaiah Joe.
Then 12 seconds later, Morant was having some friendly banter with a Thunder fan and Acosta ejected him. Morant and every other Grizzlies player tried to point this out — as did the fan, who was shocked.
Morant even had his father, Tee, bring over his phone on a Facetime call to tell the fan it wasn’t on them and that he had their back.
After the game, of course referee crew chief John Goble had Acosta’s back. This is from the official pool report:
GOBLE: Morant was assessed his second technical foul for making a comment questioning the integrity of the officials.
QUESTION: It appears Morant was speaking to a fan when he was assessed the second technical foul. Was the technical foul assessed as a result of conversation or actions toward the crowd?
The video evidence says yes. Morant went with the cap meme — suggesting the official is lying — in response to the pool report.
This feels like a situation where the referee misunderstood something and made a mistake but then felt they could not back down from their position. We all understand that being an NBA referee is a difficult job; maybe the worst part is getting yelled at by players, coaches and fans. It can lead to a sense of being disrespected — sometimes even when they aren’t.
But if you’re going to eject a player — changing the course of that game and, in this case, removing from the court a player a lot of people paid to see — it has to be for solid and legitimate reasons. This was not that.