Jordan Paul definitely grabbed and pulled Ja Morant’s knee; Whether he intends to hurt him is not the point

The Golden State Warriors beat the Memphis Grizzlies to a 2-1 lead on Saturday, and that may not have been the only loss Memphis suffered. Ja Morant walked off the field limp with an apparent right knee discomfort at 6:19 in the fourth quarter and didn’t return, and the Grizzlies insist Jordan Poole take responsibility for Morant’s potential injury.

The play in question occurred with just over seven minutes to play in the game. Morant found himself in a double team near half the field by Paul and Andrew Wiggins. Paul knocked the ball down, and while Morant and Wiggins were jostling for possession, Paul conspicuously grabbed Morant’s right knee and pulled it back.

You can see in the overlayed screenshot that Morant tweeted a “codebreaker” in a clear shot of Steve Kerr, who has been taking “codebreaking” hits on Dillon Brooks left and right since Brooks knocked out Gary Payton’s second airborne, who broke his elbow, in Early game 2 with a sharp head swing. Morant quickly deleted the tweet, but the Grizzlies’ feelings for this Poole play are clear.

“We just saw the replay,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins told reporters. “He was chasing a dribble and Jordan Bull grabbed his knee and pulled it, which caused it all to happen, so I’d be very curious as to what would happen next.”

Jenkins said the Grizzlies would consider having the league look into Paul’s actions, noting that the act might be worthy of a suspension, as was the case with Brooks, who was suspended in Game 3 after hitting Payton.

Of course, everyone who has Warriors scoffs at the idea that what Paul did could be considered a dirty play. Stephen Curry said it’s no kidding that Morant might get hurt, but that “there’s no comparison” between what Paul did, which Curry thinks was “nothing harmful”, and what Brooks did to Peyton, adding that the suggestion that Paul did anything dirty is” Total Bachelor’s.

So here’s the deal: It’s not BS. You can’t watch this video and come to any conclusion other than that Paul definitely grabbed Morant’s knee and pulled him back. Was he trying to hurt Morant? I seriously doubt it. My guess is that Paul removed the ball and, in an impulsive attempt to prevent Morant from getting it back and thus giving his teammate, Andrew Wiggins, a better shot, grabbed Morant’s knee to block him.

Had Paul grabbed Morant’s shirt and brought it back, it would have been just a mistake. But he didn’t grab his shirt. Grab his knee. Then take it off. This is dangerous. No two ways about it.

Injury intent is not the point here. It was almost certain that Brooks had no intention of injuring Payton either. He had seen a man go into an immersion and wanted to stop him from doing so. He swings very hard in an attempt to prevent the opponent from scoring, not to hurt the guy. But he hurt him. He took that risk when he decided to swing close to the man’s head. You rush down the highway and get into a wreck that hurts someone, your rash actions are wrong, even though you weren’t intent on hurting them in the first place.

To this point, I hope Morant is not injured. If it is, we don’t even know for sure that this was the play that caused the injury. It might have been one possession earlier.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if Paul’s knee grab is actually what hit Morant’s knee, exacerbated a previous injury, or even if Morant turned out to be injury-free, which we all hope will be. It only matters what Paul did and the possibility of hurting an opponent. Knees are no joke. You cannot grab and pull the knees. You can clearly see Morant’s knee bending in the wrong direction.

Players do this kind of impulsive thing from time to time when they’re trying to win a possession, or more often, when they’re desperately trying to avoid losing possession. Earlier in the match, Desmond Bunny lost the ball and in an effort to prevent Paul from getting it back, he headed first straight to Paul’s knees.

Earlier in the series, Morant was hit by a dribble and swung his knee straight to Curry’s knee and tripped him.

Again, these are impulsive plays that happen more than you think. Grayson Allen has been staying away from his opponents since college. But that’s not two mistakes making a deal of the right kind. Just because what Paul did was more accurate than what Brooks did to Payton doesn’t mean it wasn’t a big deal. Paul called it “basketball.” I assure you that no basketball game involves grabbing an opponent’s knee and pulling it back. Does Morante hurt? Let’s hope not. Was Paul trying to hurt Morant? Did not matter. He risked his actions, and now, if Memphis actually asked the university to consider suspending Paul, he might have to pay for it.

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