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Heat’s Markieff Morris has no time for ‘sloppy, fat boy’ as he returns after four months from neck injury

Markieff Morris has moved on.

That was among the first things the veteran Miami Heat forward wanted to make clear after returning Saturday night from a four-month absence due to a neck injury sustained in his Nov. 8 run-in with Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic.

Closure, he said, came with the 17 minutes he played in Saturday night’s loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves at FTX Arena.

So asked if Jokic had reached out in the interim in regard to the violent shove in the back that trigged whiplash and 58 games on the sidelines, Morris brusquely brushed aside the question.

“F— no,” he said during his postgame interview. “I don’t want to hear from him. He did what he did. It is what it is.”

That comment was offered two months after Morris had posted on his Twitter account of the incident, “It’s a real injury! Imagine having a 300-pound sloppy, fat boy run full speed and make direct contact with your spine!”

Jokic was suspended one game for the incident, with Morris fined $50,000 for the shove that triggered the melee.

History, Morris said, even while acknowledging for the first time that moving on initially was difficult.

“For the first two weeks,” he said, “I probably didn’t sleep, just based off of that happening to be, and me not being able to really control the situation. It’s been one of the first times in my life where I couldn’t control something. I moved past it. It took me a while.

“My grandfather called me a bunch of times and told me just let it go, and just move on, that’d be best for everybody. And that’s what I did. However long it’s been, like I said, I’m grateful to just be able to play basketball again.”

It was an uneven return, with six points on 3-of-7 shooting, four rebounds, four fouls and the Heat outscoring the Timberwolves by six when he was on the court.

The statistics, point guard Kyle Lowry said, stood secondary.

“It’s exciting,” Lowry said. “He did some things [Saturday] night that were extremely pleasant to see. He just played well. He’s going to be out there for us. He’s going to give us a little bit more spacing, some mismatches.

“But, at the end of the day, it’s a veteran guy who is going to be very important to our team in the stretch run.”

The basketball part, coach Erik Spoelstra said, almost stood secondary.

“I thought that was just really uplifting, not only for him, but for us, and the whole locker room,” Spoelstra said, with the Heat next turning their attention to Tuesday night’s visit by the Detroit Pistons. “Everybody has seen, you know, what he’s had to do the last few months, and just really, basically have it be a waiting game. It’s extremely frustrating.

“But he’s been a great teammate. He’s been great behind the scenes. He’s really been putting in the work. So I think that allowed him to play the minutes that he played. And it looked like he was in really good rhythm, as well.”

The Heat and Morris had to wait for final clearance from the NBA’s Fitness To Play Panel, a stipulation because of a previous spinal injury sustained by Morris earlier in his career.

“He was really cleared less than two hours before the game,” Spoelstra said. “And we’ve had a lot of really cool moments this season, and that was one of ‘em.”

Morris had been working with both the team and on his own in recent weeks, while awaiting clearance.

“I would say pain-wise, I didn’t have pain the entire time, not even after the hit,” he said. “Turning the corner, I would probably say three to four weeks after I was hit. Obviously, it showed [Saturday] night I’ve been doing something, so it wasn’t like I wasn’t doing anything. Yeah, I’ve been good for a while.

“It felt great, man. It’s been a long process. Just thankful, grateful to be able to play the game I love again.”

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Source: Berkshire mont

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