Marcus Morris had an All-American career at Kansas. In his three seasons, the Jayhawks won three straight Big 12 regular season titles and two Big 12 tournament tournament titles, and earned a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament twice. Morris made the Big 12 rookie team in 2008-09 and improved to become the Big 12 Player of the Year as a junior, when he was also named second-team All-American.
That resume almost guarantees a jersey retirement, and yet, when Kansas head coach Bill Self called Morris and told him their plan to retire his number, Morris had some doubts.
[Bill] Self: I called Marcus and I tell him the great news. What’s the first thing he said?
[Brennan] Bechard [former Kansas teammate]: “What about Kieff?”
Self: I said, “Marcus, no disrespect, Kieff could have got his jersey retired if he stayed another year, but you were the Big 12 player of the year and All-American and Kief wasn’t. This is about you.” He goes, “Nah, this is about us.”
Morris eventually consented to having his number (no. 22) retired during the 2020 NBA All-Star Break. His former teammate Tyrel Reed, who played with both twins for all three of their seasons at Kansas, told him, “When they see your last name up there, they’re going to think of both of you.”
So Marcus brought his brother with him during the ceremony. As Allen Fieldhouse revealed the jersey, Markieff was standing there next to him. During Marcus’s speech, Markieff was there next to him. When the media spoke with Marcus about the event, Markieff was sitting in front of the mics, right there next to him.
In the weeks since then, now that Markieff has joined the Lakers and the two brothers are playing for teams in the same city, it’s become overwhelmingly clear just how close the two of them are.
The first time Marcus was interviewed after it was rumored that his brother would be joining the Lakers, he said, “If one of us wins, we both win. That’s how we look at it. Obviously, I’m a Clipper, I’d love to win, we’re definitely gonna be competitors, but we’re both gonna work hard. It’ll probably be the first time where two players from two different teams are actually working out together. That’s gonna be cool.”
When the Morris brothers played against each other on Mar. 8, Marcus was FaceTiming Markieff from the locker room after the game before speaking to the media. The Clipper forward was upset with his performance, but he still appreciated being able to take part in a meaningful NBA game with his brother.
“It was special, very special and not only for us but for my family. My grandfather, who is 90, enjoys watching us, enjoys the game of basketball. It’s special for our family,” Morris said. “We don’t take it for granted — any of this — because we both worked extremely hard to get to this position. We’re both just equally happy for each other.”
They play for rival teams, and if the season ever resumes, the two brothers will be fighting for the same prize. But Marcus and Markieff always root for one another and take pride in the other’s success. The Morris twins wouldn’t be here without each other.