Grizzlies star Ja Morant issues 3-word statement after historic return vs NOLA

Memphis Grizzlies v New Orleans Pelicans
Memphis Grizzlies v New Orleans Pelicans / Chris Graythen/GettyImages

Though it may have just been his first go at in-game NBA action in 235 days, Memphis Grizzlies superstar Ja Morant performed as if he hadn't missed any time at all during his return game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday evening.

In his first game of eligibility following a 25-game suspension due to conduct detrimental to the league, the 24-year-old logged just shy of 35 minutes of play and put up a magnificent effort against NOLA that, in the end, paved the way toward the team's first win in six games and their seventh win on the season as a whole.

From his astounding athleticism to his captivating brand of confidence on the floor, Morant played the brand of basketball that has made him a household name for NBA fans as well as one of the greatest players to ever don the Grizzlies' blue, navy, and gold threads in just five seasons in the association.

While some may have been shocked to see the guard come out of the gates as hot as he did, when discussing in a post-game interview how he managed to stave off any damaging signs of fatigue after an eight-month hiatus the two-time All-Star responded with an overwhelmingly entertaining three-word retort: "I'm a dog."

Grizzlies star Ja Morant sounds off on return game vs. Pelicans

"I put work in [day in and day out]. I've been putting work in. I haven't played the game in eight months, had a lot of time [to] learn myself. A lot of hard days where I went through it but, you know, basketball is my life. [It's] therapeutic for me and I'm just excited to be back."

Ja Morant

Though it ultimately took a complete team effort to claim victory over the recently serving Pelicans, Morant was unequivocally the driving force right from the jump, but particularly during the fourth period where he dropped14 points and, after giving them their first lead since the first quarter at the 1:20 mark, cashed in on a truly electrifying game-winning floater at the buzzer.

While he did show signs of exhaustion at time, ultimately the Grizzlies stud powered through and, in the end, finished with 34 points, the most ever scored by a player in their return following a 25+ game absence, while adding 8 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, and a block on 50.0 percent shooting from the floor.

Of course, parts of his game will need to be shored up as the season progresses. particularly his questionable ball security that saw him cough up five turnovers on the night, but this was to be expected after such a long absence and will likely (hopefully, at least) become less prevalent over time.

In the end, after months of waiting Morant provided Grizzlies fans and pure basketball fanatics a storybook performance during his 2023-24 debut contest. Hopefully his effect on the game will continue to contribute to much more success as the season carries on.