Jordan Poole definitely grabbed and pulled Ja Morant’s knee; whether he meant to hurt him is not the point

The Golden State Warriors beat the Memphis Grizzlies 2-1 on Saturday, and that wasn’t the only loss Memphis suffered. Ja Morant hobbled off at the 6:19 mark of the fourth quarter with obvious right knee discomfort and did not return. On Sunday, the Grizzlies said so Morant is doubtful for Game 4 on Monday. Memphis were pretty adamant after the Game 3 loss that Jordan Poole was to blame for Morant’s injury.

The game in question happened with just over seven minutes to play in the game. Morant found himself near halfway between Poole and Andrew Wiggins in doubles. Poole slapped the ball loose and as Morant and Wiggins fought for the ball, Poole quite clearly grabbed Morant’s right knee and pulled it back.

Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said Sunday that game resulted in Morant’s injury. Just look:

You can see in the screenshot overlay that Morant tweeted “broke the code” in a clear shot at Steve Kerr, who has been hitting Dillon Brooks with “he broke the code” jabs right and left since Brooks did one in the airborne Gary Payton II. who broke his elbow with a wild blow to the head early in Game 2. Morant was quick to delete the tweet, but the Grizzlies’ feelings about this poole game are clear.

“We were just watching the replay,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins told reporters Saturday night. “He wanted a dribble and Jordan Poole actually grabbed his knee and jerked it which kind of triggered whatever happened so I’ll be really excited to see what happens after that.”

Jenkins initially said the Grizzlies would consider having the league investigate Poole’s actions, implying the act may prove worthy of a suspension. However, The Athletic reported on Sunday that the NBA would not take any action against Poole.

There is, of course, no evidence that this interaction actually caused Morant’s injury, or even aggravated an earlier one. Morant was bothered by that knee at various points in the playoffs, and there were other plays in Game 3 that could have been the culprit.

Predictably, none of this stops Jenkins from continuing to claim that Poole’s actions did in fact cause Morant’s injury.

Of course, everyone at the Warriors laughed that what Poole did could be considered dirty play. Steve Kerr said he had no comment on Poole’s actions because there was “nothing to comment on,” but Kerr had plenty to say when Marcus Smart, while chasing a loose ball just like Poole, dove to the ground and happened to appear Curry’s foot ended up injuring him unintentionally, so you’re the judge of what constitutes hypocrisy.

Stephen Curry said it was no joke that Morant was hurt but that there was “no comparison” between what Poole did, which Curry believes was “nothing malicious” and what Brooks did to Payton , adding that the suggestion that Poole did something dirty was “totally BS.”

So here’s the deal: it’s not BS. You can’t watch this video and come to any conclusion other than that Poole definitely grabbed Morant’s knee and pulled it backwards. Was he trying to hurt Morant? I seriously doubt it. I suspect Poole slapped the ball loose and in an impulsive attempt to stop Morant from retrieving it and given the low position his hands were already in, he grabbed whatever he could which happened to be Morant’s knee to hold him back.

Had Poole grabbed Morant’s jersey and jerked him back it would have been just a foul. But he didn’t grab his jersey. He grabbed his knee. Then it tore. This is dangerous. There are no two ways.

The intention to injure is not in the foreground here. Brooks almost certainly had no intention of hurting Payton either. He saw a guy try to dunk and he wanted to stop him. He made a wild swing to prevent an opponent from scoring so as not to hurt the guy. But it hurt him. He took that risk when he decided to swing near a guy’s head.

In the end, all that matters is what Poole did and the potential it had to injure an opposing player. Knees are no joke. You can’t grab and pull them. You can clearly see Morant’s squat moving in the wrong direction.

Players do these types of impulsive things from time to time when trying to gain leverage, or perhaps more often when desperately trying to avoid a loss. Early in the game, Desmond Bane lost the ball and to stop Poole from regaining it, he jumped headfirst straight into Poole’s knee.

Earlier in the series, Morant was beaten from dribbling and swung his knee right into Curry’s knee, tripping him.

Again, these are impulsive games that happen more often than you think. Grayson Allen has been tripping up opponents since college. But two wrongs don’t make a right. Just because what Poole did was more subtle than what Brooks did to Payton doesn’t mean it wasn’t a big deal. They should not be judged in comparison to each other. They were independent actions. The only question is whether what Poole did was unnecessary and/or excessive.

Poole called it a “basketball game.” I assure you there is no normal game of basketball where an opponent’s knee is grabbed and pulled backwards. I don’t think it was intentional. I don’t know if it actually caused the injury or aggravated an earlier one, or none of the above. All I know is Poole irrefutably grabbed Morant’s knee. He didn’t touch it. He held it and pulled it backwards. From that point on, everything is debatable regarding the intent or cause of the injury, or wherever you choose to have the conversation. But when you say that Poole did nothing, intentionally or otherwise, you are being disingenuous. Jordan Poole definitely grabbed and pulled Ja Morant’s knee; whether he meant to hurt him is not the point

Justin Scacco

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