Photo Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Grizzlies suspend Ja Morant after apparent gun video
The Memphis Grizzlies suspended All-Star guard Ja Morant from all team activities Sunday after a video showing him flashing what appeared to be a handgun circulated on Instagram Live.
The incident came just two months after the NBA suspended the Grizzlies star for brandishing a weapon at a Denver club. In the latest video, Morant is seen riding in the passenger seat of a vehicle, holding the apparent gun as a song by rapper NBA YoungBoy plays.
“We are aware of the social media video involving Ja Morant,” the Grizzlies said Sunday in a team statement. “He is suspended from all team activities pending League review. We have no further comment at this time.”
On March 15, the NBA suspended Morant for eight games without pay, citing conduct detrimental to the league. At the time, he’d already sat out five games following an indefinite suspension by the Grizzlies following his live-streaming of a video on March 4. The NBA said Morant was suspended for “holding a firearm in an intoxicated state” while at a club in the Denver area following a loss to the Nuggets.
The league announced the suspension hours after Morant met with Commissioner Adam Silver and other league executives in New York. And while the NBA said an investigation did not prove the gun belonged to Morant, Silver said the suspension was warranted.
“Ja’s conduct was irresponsible, reckless, and potentially very dangerous,” Silver said. “It also has serious consequences given his enormous following and influence, particularly among young fans who look up to him. He has expressed sincere contrition and remorse for his behavior. Ja has also made it clear to me that he has learned from this incident and that he understands his obligations and responsibility to the Memphis Grizzlies and the broader NBA community extend well beyond his play on the court.”
When Morant returned from the suspension, he said he would stay off of Instagram Live.
“Just being more responsible, more smarter. That’s pretty much it for me,” Morant said then. “Obviously, I made mistakes in the past, caused a lot of negative attention not only for me, but my family and my team and the organization, and I’m completely sorry for that. So my job now is, like I said, to be more responsible and more smarter and don’t cause any of that no more.”
Morant, 23, was the No. 2 overall selection of the 2019 NBA Draft. Just 19 at the time of the draft, his maturity has been called into question in the past.
Last July, Morant and several friends were accused of threatening a mall security guard and the employee of a shoe store. Days later, a teenager accused Morant of punching him during a pickup basketball game, and a civil suit is pending.
The Grizzlies were eliminated from the playoffs by the Los Angeles Lakers in six games in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. After the series, Morant acknowledged his off-court mistakes.
“I have to be better with my decision-making,” Morant said during player exit interviews. “That’s pretty much it. Off-the-court issues affected us as an organization. Yeah, just more discipline.”
On the season, Morant averaged 26.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 8.1 assists in 61 games (59 starts).
Morant signed a franchise-record, five-year, $193 million contract extension that will begin with the 2023-24 season. Because he did not make an All-NBA team this year, he did not qualify for a supermax contract worth $231 million.
–Field Level Media contributed to this article