SPOKANE, Wash. (BVM) – Had Adam Morrison’s career panned out the way most thought it would, he may still be playing in the NBA as a “3-and-D” wing who has had a stellar pro tenure.
March 23, 2006: UCLA comes back from 9 points down in the final minutes to shock Gonzaga in the Sweet 16, leaving Adam Morrison in tears.
Gus Johnson on the call. pic.twitter.com/hWlOBTQ7r4
— This Day In Sports Clips (@TDISportsClips) March 23, 2021
While the player formerly recognized by his dark, floppy hair and thin mustache hasn’t exactly had the basketball journey he envisioned, he has still remained involved with the game, and close-knit with his alma mater.
The son of a former basketball coach, Morrison was born in Glendive, Montana, and later moved to Spokane, Washington, where the future sharpshooter got his first taste of Gonzaga basketball as the team’s ball boy. Adversity struck soon after, however, when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 13 years old that caused some hardships in his early life.
Playing with diabetes has never been easy for Morrison, as he has often been seen on the bench pricking his finger to measure his blood sugar and at times losing energy while playing. However, he went on to still have a tremendous career on the court, and that began by starring at Mead High School.
A 37-point effort in the state championship game during his senior season in 2003 resulted in a loss for Morrison and his Mead squad, getting bested by former NBA player Aaron Brooks – who scored 38 in the game – and Franklin High School.
Morrison was named MVP of the postseason tournament after tying a record with 127 points, and graduated as his conference’s all-time leading scorer. The basketball standout was not heavily recruited out of high school, yet, that would ultimately lead him back to a familiar place.
In 1999, the Gonzaga Bulldogs hired Mark Few to become head coach of their men’s basketball program, which had only made the NCAA Tournament a couple of times in program history. In the over two decades since, the Bulldogs have not missed the tournament once.
Few has brought in some elite talent during his tenure in Spokane, especially as of late. However, it was the teams of the early 2000s that really set the tone for what Gonzaga has become, and players like Morrison, who joined the Zags in 2003.
Morrison stayed to play at Gonzaga for three years, and his numbers were impressive. In his freshman year, he averaged 11.4 points per game and made the West Coast Conference (WCC) All-Freshman team. He took a leap forward by averaging 19 points per game as a sophomore in 2004-05, leading the Zags to a second-consecutive WCC title.
However, Gonzaga had failed to get past the second round of the NCAA Tournament both seasons. That would change in Morrison’s junior year, as the 6-foot-8 forward became one of the most lethal scorers in the country, averaging over 28 points per game while shooting 42% from 3-point range.
A 43-point effort against Michigan State during a triple-overtime win in the Maui Invitational had Morrison and the Zags officially on the map early in the year. It was one of five 40-point scoring games for the nation’s leading scorer in 2005-06, later recording a career-high 44 points against Loyola Marymount in February.
The 29-4 Bulldogs again cruised to WCC regular season and tournament titles, and looked poised to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. Scoring 35 in an opening-round game against Xavier – which the Zags needed all of in a tight 79-75 contest – and following that up with a win over Indiana, Gonzaga had finally reached the Sweet 16.
There they took on two-seeded UCLA led by a plethora of future NBA players in Aaron Afflalo, Jordan Farmar, Darren Collison, Ryan Hollins and Luc Mbah a Moute. Still, Gonzaga more than held its own, leading 42-29 at halftime, and still holding a double-digit lead with five minutes to play.
From there, an epic collapse ensued. UCLA would score the final 11 points of the game, as the Bulldogs were done in by a slew of turnovers and missed shots. The moment created the lasting image of Morrison’s brilliant college career, and raw emotion not often seen from many athletes at the time.
Gonzaga and UCLA will meet in the Final Four.
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) March 31, 2021
Following his junior season, the co-national player of the year – an honor he shared with Duke star J.J. Redick – decided to forgo his senior season and enter the NBA draft. In a relatively weak class, Morrison was selected third overall as the first pick of Michael Jordan’s Charlotte Bobcats tenure, a selection that evidently fueled the rift between Jordan and former NBA star Charles Barkley. Morrison’s selection followed No. 1 pick Andrea Bargnani and No. 2 selection LaMarcus Aldridge.
At first, Morrison looked the part of a top draft pick, scoring 14 in his debut and recording a career-high 30 points in the second month of his rookie season. However, shooting just over 37% from the field decreased his playing time over the course of the year.
— Timeless Sports (@timelesssports_) February 3, 2018
Then came what would ultimately be one of the daggers to his NBA career.
During a preseason game in 2007, Morrison suffered a torn ACL. He missed the entire 2007-08 season, and came back to play just 52 total games the following season, averaging four points per game between his time with the Bobcats and Los Angeles Lakers, who he was traded to in February 2009.
After 31 games with the Lakers in 2009-10, Morrison was released. While he did win back-to-back championships in Los Angeles, his playing time was minimal. Yet, he was able to learn a lot from legendary coach Phil Jackson, and one of the greatest to ever play in Kobe Bryant.
In 2011, he signed with the Washington Wizards, but was released prior to the regular season. The same happened with the Portland Trail Blazers in 2012 following summer league stints with the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers in which Morrison averaged 20 points across five games. Morrison’s preseason appearance with the Blazers would be the final time he stepped foot on an NBA court, as he left the league just six years after being drafted.
Post-NBA career and Gonzaga return
Morrison spent time overseas while his NBA career was still hanging in the balance, playing eight games with KK Crvena zvezda in Serbia in 2011 and Beşiktaş J.K. in Turkey during the remainder of the 2011-12 season.
In 2013, he became a student assistant back at Gonzaga as he returned to the school to complete his undergraduate degree in sports management. He later became an assistant video coordinator for the Zags in 2014 but eventually left the coaching staff a year later.
Life since basketball
Morrison made some headlines back in 2016 when comments made by then Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer on Barstool Sports’ “Pardon My Take” podcast went viral stating that Morrison had a remote compound capable of surviving an apocalypse. While it was later revealed that wasn’t quite the case, Morrison has made several positive headlines in his post-playing career as well.
Following his stint with the coaching staff at Gonzaga, Morrison returned to his other former school, Mead, to become an assistant coach at the high school level.
Meanwhile, Morrison has maintained his competitive edge through playing poker at local casinos and over 100 rounds of golf per year. He swims, boats and rides jet skis near his home while spending time with his girlfriend, Mijken Nelson, his two daughters and his son.
Morrison is estimated to have made almost $17 million during his NBA playing career, and also had sponsorship deals at one point with Adidas and Johnson & Johnson. His net worth is currently valued around $8 million as he continues to live a country life in Washington at his home outside of Spokane.
In 2020, Morrison was also honored by Gonzaga for his incredible college career with the Bulldogs.
Broadcasting career and podcast
Continuing to teach the next generation of basketball players and spend time with his family, Morrison has added a new hobby into the fold in recent years: podcasts. He began his own podcast called “The Perimeter with Adam Morrison” where the 37-year-old discusses his past basketball career and those he has met on and off the court.
— The Perimeter with Adam Morrison (@AdamMorrisonPod) June 22, 2021
Recently, Morrison has also been involved with the “Gonzaga Nation” podcast alongside former Gonzaga player Dan Dickau. The Sports Illustrated Fan Nation-run podcast discusses all things Gonzaga basketball from player analysis to March Madness to the NBA draft.
How would you rate Chet Holmgren's performances against USD & BYU?
Listen to Adam's thoughts on #34 from Gonzaga's last road trip.
— The Perimeter with Adam Morrison (@AdamMorrisonPod) February 9, 2022
Meanwhile, Morrison has also become Gonzaga basketball’s radio analyst for the Gonzaga IMG Radio Network alongside play-by-play man Tom Hudson. Over the last few years, Morrison has gotten to be a part of some of the top moments in Bulldogs’ history in the role, but one stands above the rest.
In the 2021 Final Four, Gonzaga finally got its tournament rematch with upstart UCLA, the team that ended Morrison’s career 15 years prior. Coming into the game a perfect 30-0, the Zags got all they could handle from the surprising Bruins. The contest went to overtime, with UCLA guard Johnny Juzang tying things up at 90 in the waning moments. Then, Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs raced down the court, pulled up from deep and nailed one of the most iconic shots in March Madness history, garnering a classic reaction from Morrison.
Jalen Suggs' all-time game-winner against UCLA called by Gonzaga's IMG radio team of Tom Hudson and Adam Morrison (yes, that Adam Morrison): pic.twitter.com/DBtqdFjenL
— Brian Fonseca (@briannnnf) April 4, 2021
TAKE THAT UCLA! These are tears of joy this time. #Gonzaga
— Adam Morrison (@AdamMorrison35) April 4, 2021
Morrison’s life has been quicker-paced than most, becoming a father and millionaire in his early 20s and retiring by age 28. He will always go down as being a draft bust, yet is also an inspiration for many from his high school days, college career and just playing basketball at the highest level despite type 1 diabetes.
He’s a man who has lived a simple life since retirement and has always stuck to his roots. That’s what has led him back to Gonzaga time and again, and now, fans have been lucky enough to share in the life and insights of the former basketball star through his radio and podcast work.