MEMPHIS, Tenn. — We all knew Ja Morant would be named the 2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year in a landslide. But there was always that chance that someone might choose hype over performance and take a unanimous selection away from Morant.
Sure enough, one of the 100 award voters broke away from the other 99, choosing Zion Williamson (who played just 19 games before the season was halted) over Ja.
Award voting was supposed to be based on solely games played before the stoppage, but one individual chose to base their decision solely on name recognition. Morant has a message for the rogue voter.
"I need to figure out who was that person, who didn't pick me first [for Rookie of the Year]," he said. "I want to shoot a direct message to them and thank them for motivating me even more."
The NBA will release individual ballots once all of the season's award are announced.
But unanimous or not, September 3rd 2020 will forever be a day that Ja Morant holds dear. Not because he won an award, but because of who he was able to celebrate with: his daughter, Kaari.
Morant was deeply affected when he had to miss his daughter's first birthday while inside the Orlando bubble. Sharing this achievement with her in-person made the day all the more special.
"I wake up every morning motivated to get better," he said. "Do whatever I've got to do to make sure she never wants for nothing, make sure that I take care of business. It's a special day. It's an honor and I'm blessed to have her and a lot of other people in my life."
Ja is just the second rookie in Grizzlies history to win the award, joining Pau Gasol, who took home the honors in April of 2002, when Morant was just two years old.