OKLAHOMA CITY – Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant was ejected just before halftime of Saturday night’s 115-109 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder after apparently making disparaging remarks about the officiating to Memphis fans.
Morant was ejected with 43 seconds left in the half when he was called for his second technical foul. He picked up his first technical with 11 seconds left after being fouled to stop the game and complaining about not being able to make a call on a drive to the basket.
According to the team’s report, crew chief John Goble said Morant was assessed his first technical for “using a profanity toward an official” and his second technical for “making a comment impugning the integrity of an official.”
When asked if the second technical was called as a result of a conversation with Morant’s fans, Goble replied:
Morant didn’t say exactly what he told the fans, but confirmed the conversation and said he wasn’t talking to the official before the tackle.
“I got my first tech for saying I got hit in the face. I didn’t curse him,” Morant said. “Another situation where he’s in my conversation and I get another technique to talk to a fan. I feel like when these fans came here, went online to buy these tickets, they didn’t say Ray [Acosta’s] the name to come.”
Morant had just six points on 3-for-10 shooting, and the Grizzlies’ seven-game winning streak was snapped.
Morant gave courtside fans two thumbs up as he exited the game. And his conversation with them continued from the dressing room.
Morant reportedly called his father, who took a cell phone to fans Morant was interacting with. Morant confirmed that he spoke to fans on Facetime after his dismissal, saying he wanted to thank them for their support.
“They came to support us,” Morant said after the game. “They came to watch us play. I don’t care about being fined.”
Morant was ejected from the Dec. 1 game and fined $35,000 for his comments about the officiating. He was asked if he felt he was being singled out for his behavior on the court.
“I don’t know, probably so,” he said. “Maybe I don’t like it.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.