After missing the first two weeks of training camp and the preseason, Markieff Morris walked into Capital One Arena on Thursday following a month that featured the birth of his first child, an acquittal of a three-year legal case and sports hernia surgery. Though much had changed in his life recently, his return brought familiarity for a Wizards team that often boasts of their commitment to continuity. Their starting power forward, a man who refers to himself as the team's enforcer, is officially back.
Morris remains sidelined after surgery, hoping to ramp his rehab up to light shooting work in the coming days. But his mere presence is something the Wizards were waiting for, knowing he can still make an impact in a leadership role.
"He looks great, feels great. It's good to have him back," head coach Scott Brooks said. "Our guys are excited to see him."
As mentioned above, there was a lot to catch up on with Morris. As for the surgery, he said his abdominal wall was repaired. He didn't start feeling discomfort until late in the offseason when his preseason workouts were intensified. He remains weeks to a month away from returning, but is excited to be back with his teammates.
Morris believes he can still help out despite not being in the actual games.
"I will still talk a little s*** to the other team," he said in typical Morris fashion. "That's going to be the most important thing, letting those guys know I have their back regardless of whether I'm in the game or not."
Morris is of course thrilled to have the legal case behind him. Both he and his twin brother Marcus were acquitted of allegations they jumped a man at an exhibition basketball game. Morris says he was confident the whole time they would get off and "be victorious."
On top of all that going on, Morris' daughter Jyzelle was born in early September. He is still getting used to the lifestyle change.
"It's funny that I have a daughter now. It doesn't really hit you until you're waking up every morning or staying up all night to care for all her needs. She's beautiful and I love her to death," he said.
Morris also offered some additional thoughts on the Wizards-Celtics rivalry now that his brother Marcus plays in Boston. Markieff spoke on the matter in August, but this time was asked about his personal feud with Al Horford. Morris and Horford became enemies during the second round playoff series between the Wizards and Celtics this past spring after Horford undercut Morris on a shot in Game 1, injuring his ankle.
"S***, I'm still gonna kick his ass. We've still got that rivalry," Morris said.
Even so, Morris does think things will be changed now that his brother is in Boston and much of the Celtics' roster has been turned over.
"Ever since that trade, it's kind of felt a little different. Not only with him being traded, but with [Isaiah Thomas] and [Jae] Crowder and all those guys. It feels a little different," he said.
The rivalry may be different, but Morris remains his quotable self.