Chess > Checkers

Ja Morant pulled off a grandmaster-level chess move to bait Ben Simmons into fouling out

In the last 48 hours alone, we've seen just how cruel the world of professional sports can be. A month ago New York Yankees fans were in full support of bringing Aaron Judge in 2023 back no matter the cost, and now a decent majority of them would be happy to let him walk. At the beginning of this NFL season, New England Patriots fans would have stepped in front of a train for Mac Jones. On Monday night, they were chanting for his backup Bailey Zappe, a fourth-round pick out of Western Kentucky.

And then there is Ben Simmons, who drew comparisons to LeBron James and Magic Johnson coming out of college. Just a few years later, he has become the laughingstock of the Association, his latest embarrassing transgression taking place on Monday night in Memphis. Yes, Simmons does actually play in basketball games now.

After Monday night, though, he probably wishes he was still riding the pine in street clothes. Late in a tight game against the Grizzlies, Simmons, already with five fouls, was baited into fouling out thanks to a grandmaster-level chess move from former No. 2 overall pick Ja Morant. Here's how it went down:

What's so great about this, you ask? Well, other than getting one of Brooklyn's best defenders to call it a night with four minutes of crunch time left, Morant clarified after his team's 10-point victory that he remembered a similar play from his 2020 rookie season involving Simmons when he was still on the Philadelphia 76ers. The play occurred at the end of the first half, as Morant lazily dribbled over half court to run some clock. When he looked to the bench to check in with his coach, Simmons snuck up and picked him off for an easy bucket. 

Basketball IQ on 1 billion. Also a product of film study, noticing tendencies, and exploiting them. The fact that its Simmons is just the icing on the cake. The man simply cannout get out of his own way right now.