Much about Markieff Morris has been defined by family and brotherhood. His personal mantra, F.O.E. (Family Over Everything), is tattooed on his body and displays above his stall inside the Washington Wizards’ locker room. So on Thursday afternoon, when Morris casually strolled inside the Capital One Arena for the first time in several weeks, he felt the vibes of a family reunion.
“It’s just like a brother going away for the summer and just coming back to his family,” Morris said. “I’m in a great position. I just had a beautiful young daughter. I just had a successful surgery and of course, I beat the case. So I’m just happy to be back with my family.”
Morris returned to the team following his acquittal in an aggravated assault trial in Phoenix, which also involved his twin brother Marcus Morris of the Boston Celtics and another man, Gerald Bowman. However, this homecoming has limitations as Morris must recover from surgery that repaired his abdominal wall. Morris expects to participate in light shooting as early as Friday, but over the next several weeks much of his time will be spent inside the trainer’s room.
According to the recovery timeline from the team, Morris could possibly miss a month of the regular season. His absence has created a void in the Wizards’ starting lineup, but his reappearance was welcomed by the team.
“He got some treatment with our guys, looks great, feels great. It’s good to have him back, it’s good to have him back in the building,” Coach Scott Brooks said. “It’s good to have him back with our guys. Our guys were excited to see him. He’ll be around us from here on out. He’s excited to be here and spend time with his baby girl, which is very important.”
Morris’s life-altering summer hurtled him along the emotional spectrum. From fatherhood (“It’s cool, man”) to spending weeks inside a courtroom (“like being in school and being lectured”) and finally, undergoing surgery, Morris spoke candidly with reporters about his eventful month.
In early September, Morris became a father. He’s already turned baby Jyzelle into a Dallas Cowboys fan, buying blue and white onesies for all 16 weeks of the NFL season.
“It’s funny that I have a daughter now,” Morris said. “It doesn’t really hit you until you’re actually waking up every morning or staying up every night caring for all her needs, man. She’s beautiful and I love her to death.”
By the time his daughter was born, Morris was already aware that he’d need surgery. In 2010, Morris had sports hernia surgery before his junior college season at Kansas. However, the way Morris described it, the current issue is not necessarily a repeat injury but rather a result of the former sports hernia. Through the middle of the summer while working out in Washington, Morris began experiencing stomach pain and doctors recommended that his abdominal wall needed to be strengthened.
“Probably 10 to 15 years down the road I would say it would wear down,” Morris said about the injury.
Still, Morris missed his first NBA training camp in seven years for another reason. In mid-September, the Morris twins had to stand trial in Maricopa County for allegedly participating in an assault that occurred while they played for the Phoenix Suns. The threat of possible prison time as well as a minimum 10-game suspension from the NBA could have disrupted their careers, but on Tuesday the Morrises as well as Bowman were found not guilty. Two days later, both brothers had returned to their respective teams.
“All the things that happened after the offense was a tough thing — with [Marcus] getting traded and us losing endorsements and things like that but at the end of the day, we came out victorious,” Morris said. “It’s behind us. We move forward and we’ll continue to be the stand-up men we’ve been.”
Universally heralded by teammates for his toughness, Morris declared he’ll still have their backs even while on the bench.
“I’m a student of the game already, so I just want to give them input on what I see out there,” Morris said. “Still talk my lil’ [expletive] to the other team.”
Thursday’s news conference showed that Morris hasn’t lost his edge in trash talking. When asked about the Wizards’ rivalry with Boston, Morris seemed to rue the summer trades that changed the Celtics’ roster — until being reminded that Al Horford, the player who stepped under his foot and caused a severe sprain during the Eastern Conference semifinals, remains on the team.
“I’m still going to kick his [tail] too,” Morris said, smiling. “We still kinda got that rivalry going on.”
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