For those who haven't kept up, after scoring a career high 35 points in a Phoenix Suns win over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, forward Markieff Morris refused to do a post-game interview with the group of media assembled in the locker room.
"It was me being childish," he said to radio host John Gambadoro yesterday on ArizonaSports 98.7 'Gambo and Burns' of the incident. "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 Morris didn't do a locker room interview is nothing new. The Morris brothers have rarely done post game interviews this season, often staying in the shower area until all the reporters have left to write their articles before deadlines.The same is generally true of Gerald Green and several other regulars. When you've got a nine-man rotation and nearly half of them avoid the media after games, that just puts more of a burden on the ones who don't.
The only difference was that this time there were a dozen media waiting for him, standing by his locker while he dressed, and he just simply said "no media" and walked off. Even when Julie Fie, the Suns Media Relations Manager, tried to coax him back, he refused.
Usually, that post game interview task is left up to point guards Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, and forward P.J. Tucker and Tuesday was no exception. Other players were there too, but among the impactful rotation players those three are the ones who regularly take the responsibility to provide post-game interviews.
NBA rules state that players will be available to the media at least once each game day - either after shoot around that morning or after the game that night. The NBA wants to make money, and they know that ticket sales and merchandise sales, and future TV contracts, are directly correlated to the fans' access to players and coaches. The more access the fans have, the more relevant the team is. And the more relevant, the more likely some of those fans will spend money on the team. It's a win-win for the league and the team.
Media in the post-game locker room is largely made up of professional reporters on deadline, paid to collect player quotes to support the narrative of the game for their recap, radio or TV shows which must be submitted within the hour. There's reporters from the Associated Press (for national recaps on sites like NBA.com and hundreds of other sites that want game recaps for print or online use), Fox Sports Arizona (which is doing a live post-game), the local Arizona Republic and several radio stations, plus bloggers from a handful of websites.
Several reporters are tasked with getting quotes from at least two players plus the coach in order to get paid for their game coverage.
Generally, the players in demand are the ones who had the best (or worst) game that night because the reporters want their relevant take on how the game went. The more relevant the interview, the better. So while Shavlik Randolph is generally around along with the rookies, for example, they rarely are the "go to" interviews that night.
Morris understands what he did wrong.
"It's not about me," he said to Gambo and Burns. "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."
But I do sympathize with Keef and the other players.
No player, no human being for that matter, wants to be interviewed every day. It's not fun for anyone, them or us, but it's a business so the players do it. Some only do it when they have to, while others do it freely because they recognize they owe something back to the fans that are helping them make millions of dollars a year to play a game.
And really, no one in the media wants to conduct 14 separate post-game interviews after every game. Two or three, or four at the outside, is the limit for most of the media folks. Otherwise, everyone's there for an hour and the value beyoung the first two or three is marginal at best.
So the Suns do a great job of making sure at least two or three of that night's best players make themselves available to talk. I can't even recollect a night where there weren't two of that night's rotation players available for interviews within the tight deadline window. Great kudos to the Suns on that.
It's just that when a player goes for a career high, the media would like to hear his take on how that happened. It helps the narrative and increases the reach of the Suns to their fans.
"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," Morris said to Gambo and Burns. "I've just got to take more responsibility, be a professional about the situation, and again, I'm sorry."
General Manager Ryan McDonough game some insight into why Markieff might have been frustrated with the media, leading to his refusal to do interviews.
"It's frustrating," McDonough said to ArizonaSports 98.7 yesterday. "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."
It's true that a lot of coverage lately has focused more on the bad than the good. But news is news, and when bad news comes out the media will cover it and opine on it.