Monday night, Grizzlies star rookie Ja Morant returned to the court after missing four games with what was officially called “back spasms,” but in reality was him recovering from his back hitting a courtside cameraman after a fall.
Morant scored 26 to lead the Warriors to a win in Golden State, but he admitted to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes that when he drove the lane and went up he thought about his landing spot and those cameramen.
Following the contest, Morant acknowledged that instead of solely focusing on being the best version of himself, he occasionally found himself thinking about the proximity of camera operators while driving in the paint.
“It’s tough because I know I just have to do more controlled jumps now,” Morant told Yahoo Sports. “But at the same time, I’m just trying not to think about it and still try to play my game. It’s just a tough situation all the way around, honestly….
“I just think player safety should be first and foremost. How I play and where I end up, [cameramen] are right there. Personally, I like to attack the rack, and I feel like that injury came from me attacking the rack and it was just nowhere to land for me.”
Morant echoes the concern of a lot of players and coaches.
The NBA is aware of the issue, back in 2014 they reduced the number of cameramen on the baseline by half (down to 10 per side) and created a four-foot-wide “runway” on either side of the stanchion that players can run up if they have a full head of steam.
That’s not close to eliminating the problem. The NBA is not going to remove those cameras — the NBA is in the entertainment business, and those cameras provide some of the best video angles and still shots to show fans — but expect it to take another look and review its process here.
What we don’t want to happen is the game loses a promising young player like Morant for a lot more than four games after a run-in with a cameraman.