Shannon Sharpe clashes with Grizzlies, Tee Morant; Lakers rally to snap Memphis’ win streak

LOS ANGELES — Grizzlies wing Dillon Brooks walked toward the bench as the second-quarter buzzer sounded Friday night shouting at Pro Football Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpewho was standing in front of his courtside seat.

Sharpe yelled back, motioning and inviting Brooks to come over to his seat, which was directly across from the Memphis bench.

Grizzlies superstar Ja Morant got involved, and so did Steven Adams — whom LeBron James deemed “the strongest guy in the NBA” postgame — with multiple security guards having to step in to hold Adams back from Sharpe.

Morant’s father, Tee, who was sitting next to the Grizzlies bench, beelined toward Sharpe and tried to circumvent security before being stopped by referee Zach Zarba. Sharpe yelled, “I bet you won’t!” toward Tee Morant multiple times.

Within seconds, the Grizzlies bench cleared in one of the more wild and bizarre player-fan (and celebrity) interactions in recent memory.

The altercation distracted from what ended up being a thrilling game between the Grizzlies and Lakers, with LA staging a late comeback to defeat Memphis 122-121, snapping its 11-game win streak. The Lakers improved to 21-25 and 9-9 since Anthony Davis’ right foot injury.

Multiple security guards escorted Sharpe, a well-known TV commentator for FOX Sports and co-host of “Skip and Shannon: Undisputed,” from his seat through a tunnel toward the back of the arena at halftime. He stayed in the area, speaking with security, until he returned to his seat before the start of the third quarter. On his way back, Sharpe provided a statement to ESPN regarding the incident.

“They didn’t want this smoke, Dave,” Sharpe said to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “They do all that talking and jockeying and I ain’t about that jockeying. It started with Dillon Brooks. I said he was too small to guard LeBron. He said, ‘F—’ me. I said, ‘F — you’ back. He started to come at me, and I said, ‘You don’t want these problems.’ And then Ja came out of nowhere talking. He definitely didn’t want these problems. Then the dad came, and he obviously didn’t want no problems. But I wanted anything they had. Don’t let these fools fool you now.”

Between the third and fourth quarters, Sharpe and Tee Morant shook hands and hugged, seemingly clearing up remaining tension. They also embraced after the game, smiling and laughing.

This was not the first run-in at a Lakers-Grizzlies game.

Last season, several of the regular-season matchups were contentious, with James and Desmond Bane having a heated exchange at one point. Memphis is young, brash and physical, often irritating its opponents with trash talk. It’s been part of what has made the 31-14 Grizzlies, who are No. 2 in the West with the third-best overall record in the league, so successful over the past two seasons.

After the game, Brooks declined to go into specifics of the altercation, stating that he simply told Sharpe that he forced James into a miss late in the first half.

“I ain’t talking about that,” Brooks said while standing in front of his locker. “You gotta ask him. He’s the blogger or whatever he is. I don’t really care about all that. Next question.”

When asked if Sharpe’s actions were appropriate for a spectator, Brooks momentarily sounded off.

“A regular pedestrian like him? No,” Brooks said. “He should have never come back in the game. But this is LA”

Ja Morant showed greater restraint, pausing when asked about the incident. “Let me think,” Morant said.

“Nah,” he said. “I ain’t going to address that. I’m going to let him live today.”

Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins refrained from addressing the fracas altogether, stating, “I thought the Lakers played extremely well tonight.”

Sharpe, a known James supporter and friend, has attended several Lakers games recently. James, who walked over to dap and embraced Sharpe after the win, reciprocated Sharpe’s loyalty to him in his postgame news conference.

“I ride with Shannon for 365 days, 366 on a leap year, 24/7,” James said. “So, that’s my guy. So I’ll always have his back of him, and he’s got mine. He can talk with the best of them, for sure.”

The moment gave the game some extra juice in the second half, as Sharpe was animated in his seat the rest of the way, particularly hyping up the Arena crowd during the Lakers’ fourth-quarter rally.

Los Angeles, which had lost three games in the last week by a combined 10 points, trailed 114-107 with 3:04 left. But they kept their poise and executed with big plays down the stretch, highlighted by Dennis Schröder’s game-winning steal against Bane and and-1 finish with 7.6 seconds remaining.

“We wanted to trap first before we fouled,” Schröder said. “I saw Bane catch the ball, he had his back to me and I made a play. I got the steal, pushed the ball, got fouled and finished the play.”

Following a Memphis timeout, Brandon Clarke drew a foul on Wenyen Gabriel with 1.9 seconds remaining. Clarke made the first free throw but missed the second, sealing the Grizzlies’ fate as their five-game road trip got off to a sour — and memorable — start.

“They outcompeted us for 48 minutes,” Jenkins said. “Plain and simple. Terrible effort.”

(Photo of Shannon Sharpe and Tee Morant: Harry How / Getty Images)


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