Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris had the game of his life Tuesday, erupting for 35 points and seven rebounds in a 107-100 win over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
He was the man of the hour, so to speak, and the person everyone wanted to talk to after the game. However, when members of the media approached the fourth-year pro hoping to ask some questions, Morris shunned them and walked away.
It should have been a great moment for Morris, the former first-round pick coming up big when his team needed him most. Instead, it turned into something different and, quite frankly, unacceptable.
“It is, it is,” Suns GM Ryan McDonough told Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Wednesday afternoon. “As you guys know, in the year and a half or so since Coach (Jeff) Hornacek and I have been here, we’ve tried to clean up as much of the nonsense as we can.
“And Markieff’s a really good kid, that’s the frustrating thing about the way he acted last night. And I’m certain it was out of character.”
McDonough went on to say he knows Morris apologized to team personnel who tried to coax him into chatting with the media and that he was remorseful late Tuesday night over what happened.
“It’s frustrating,” McDonough added. “The only thing I can think of, guys, is our team has played well lately — we’re 11-4 over our last 15 games — the four losses are against good Western Conference teams on the road when we’re right down there to the final buzzer, and a lot of the media coverage has been about Marcus Morris getting into it with a coach or technical fouls, the Suns getting too many technicals, and now we do need to address those issues, there’s no question about it. He was certainly wrong with the way he behaved, and we’re not making excuses for him, but I think that’s what he was feeling at the time and acted out of emotion and just had a bad moment that, like I said, was certainly out of character because he’s a really good guy and I’m positive that won’t happen again.”
Indeed, to some degree those other stories have overshadowed the positive things happening with the team, which has improved its record to 23-18. Marcus Morris did get into a shouting match with Hornacek and Markieff is tied for the NBA lead in technical fouls with nine, so it’s not like the media is making things up just for the fun of it.
McDonough said Morris will be disciplined, and acknowledges that the player, who is averaging 15.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game in his first season as a full-time starter, should be doing a better job to help promote a young, exciting Suns team that seems to have found its stride. But Morris, 25, still has some things to learn, and in this case his emotion may have simply got the best of him.
Later Wednesday, Morris joined Burns and Gambo and said what transpired Tuesday night should not have.
“It was me being childish,” he said. “I’ve got to be smarter than that. I need to show you guys (the media) more respect.
“Honestly, I just wanted to take the day off from media and go home and enjoy my family.”
That’s fair. Morris said it had nothing to do with the attention given to his brother’s dustup with Hornacek, adding that it’s between “him and coach.”
Ultimately, Morris said he understands his post-game actions took attention away from the team’s victory, and that’s something he felt bad about.
“It definitely wasn’t about me; it was about the team’s success, the organization. We definitely put together a big win last night, the fans were great, everybody was great,” he said. “I’ve just got to take more responsibility, be a professional about the situation, and again, I’m sorry.”
From the sound of it, this was just a one-night thing that happened in the spur of the moment. Morris made it clear he feels bad about it all.
“It was my mistake,” he said. “I definitely was childish. It’s not about me, it’s about the Suns, the Suns organization and the fans. I definitely should have showed (the media) more respect, and I just take that back.”