Shannon Sharpe, Grizzlies players argue in court confrontation

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LOS ANGELES — Shannon Sharpe spends his days trading barbs with Skip Bayless on FS1’s “Skip and Shannon: Undisputed,” but the former NFL star turned sports commentator sparked a verbal altercation with multiple members of the Memphis Grizzlies during their Friday night game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers defeated the Grizzlies 122-121 at the Crypto.com Arena and used an unlikely last-minute comeback to break Memphis’ 11-game winning streak. But the on-field action took a back seat when Sharpe, who attended the game as a spectator and sat in a chair across from the Grizzlies bench, exchanged words with Dillon Brooks, Steven Adams, Ja Morant and Morant’s father, Tee Morant, during the rest break.

As Sharpe, 54, turned his attention to Tee Morant, who came across court from the Grizzlies’ bench as the heated verbal altercation unfolded, security guards and the umpires stepped in to separate the sides. The back-and-forth yelling contest lasted more than 30 seconds before the Grizzlies left the locker room and Sharpe headed for the tunnel.

Sharpe, a famous LeBron James vocal supporter, told ESPN.com that the conversation started when he told Brooks he was too small to defend the Lakers star. The Pro Football Hall of Famer added that he exchanged swear words with Brooks and that the Grizzlies’ contingent “didn’t want this smoke”. When play resumed for the second half, Sharpe returned to his seat.

Brooks said afterwards that he only responded to Sharpe by saying that James had missed a shot.

“I’m not talking about that,” said Brooks, who fouled by nine points on a 4-17 shootout against the Lakers. “You can ask him. He’s the blogger or whatever he is. I don’t really care. Next question.”

The veteran guard later added that he felt it was inappropriate for Sharpe to be allowed to remain in his seat after the altercation.

“An ordinary pedestrian like him? No,’ said Brooks. “He should never have come back in the game, but it’s LA”

The NBA has a code of conduct for fan behavior in the hope of “foster”.[ing] a safe, comfortable and enjoyable sports and entertainment experience.” Fans are not allowed to engage in “disruptive behavior, including foul or abusive language and obscene gestures”, among other possible offenses or risk eviction or possible arrest. Printed versions of the policy are placed on court seats before matches, and announcers repeat the policy before tipping off.

James, who finished with 23 points, nine rebounds and six assists, thanked Sharpe for his support.

“That’s my husband,” he said. “I will always have his back, and he has mine. He can talk to the best, that’s for sure.”

Whether to blame for the fiery conversation or not, the Grizzlies blew a 13-point lead and gave up 41 points in the fourth quarter to the Lakers en route to their first loss since December 27. The Lakers recovered from a five-point deficit with 1:04 remaining in regulation and got the starting points when Dennis Schroder fielded Desmond Bane and converted an one-and-one layup in transition with 7.1 seconds remaining.

Russell Westbrook led the Lakers with 29 points, five rebounds and six assists from the bench. Schroder added 19 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

During the break between the third and fourth quarters, Tee Morant approached Sharpe and the two settled their differences with a hug. Tee Morant told Bleacher Report that he had “nothing but love” for Sharpe. After the game, a celebratory Sharpe pointed to several Grizzlies players and laughed again with Tee Morant.

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Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins and Ja Morant dodged questions about the altercation during their post-game comments.

“We just had a complete letdown in the second half,” said Jenkins. “[The Lakers] fueled the game with their fans and all that stuff, courtesy of them. We have not responded.”

Morant added: “Let me think. No. I’m not going into that. I’ll leave it there.’

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