The audacious Ja Morant recently told Taylor Rooks of Bleacher Report that he would have “cooked” Michael Jordan if they played 1 on 1. He’s right — in his own mind. And that’s what matters most.
Why do sports fans get so riled up when a player says that he (or she) would be able to compete with the very best of previous generations? Isn’t that the point — to possess a level of confidence that is unconquerable, a desire for greatness that is unquenchable? The metaphorical mountaintop is a constant pursuit for those truly striving for the pinnacle of their respective field … and in professional basketball, Michael Jordan is the mountaintop.
So of course, Ja Morant told Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks he would “cook” Michael Jordan in 1-on-1. Because he would, in the realm of the mind of Ja Morant, absolutely destroy the Greatest Of All Time (to many) and make it clear that it is “12” that is “him”, not Jordan.
Michael Jordan is deified in most basketball circles, and mostly for good reason. Personality “quirks” aside, to watch Jordan compete at the highest capacity in terms of combining talent and tenacity was a sight to behold. He was so dominant, and so respected for his mental and physical abilities on the floor, that for a strong minority of basketball fans simply suggesting that LeBron James may have surpassed Jordan in terms of “GOAT” status is offensive.
If a megastar like LeBron can’t get respect when compared to MJ, surely the young Ja Morant shouldn’t even be in the same arena of public discourse.
If Ja Morant believes he could beat Michael Jordan, that’s all that matters
Except he is. Because he wants to be — bearing the same brashness and confidence that Jordan himself wielded like an flaming sword at his peak. And whether you like it or not, or if he is doing so “too soon” for your liking, it is irrelevant.
Ja Morant believes it. That is all that matters to Ja Morant.
It’s meant as a compliment. Morant’s relentless self-reliance is a major part of why he just signed the largest contract in Memphis Grizzlies history. It is why he went from AAU tournament-side gyms and Murray State to dominating the eventual NBA Champion Golden State Warriors before he got injured (38.3 points, 8.3 assists, 6.7 rebounds in three games against Golden State) as the NBA’s Most Improved Player and a Second Team All-NBA selection in his third season in the NBA. He possesses elite athletic ability, an underrated skill set as a dribbler, and remarkable vision as a passer.
But perhaps his greatest gift is the reality that even when no one else thought he could be what he has become, he did. Ja Morant is the peak of this generation of NBA players when it comes to the chip-on-the-shoulder mentality. He was given nothing. He has taken everything.
So, if given the chance, would he take the throne from the NBA’s all-time king?
Absolutely. At least, to Ja Morant.
That is what makes him great. And what will lead him — and his Memphis Grizzlies — to unprecedented success.