Ja Morant suspended 25 games for 2nd social media video involving a gun

Ja Morant
FILE – Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) plays during the second half of Game 5 in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Los Angeles Lakers, Wednesday, April 26, 2023, in Memphis, Tenn. Morant has been suspended for the first 25 games of the upcoming season for his second known incident of displaying what appeared to be a firearm on social media, the NBA announced Friday, June 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill, File)

Memphis guard Ja Morant has been suspended 25 games by the NBA — his second ban in four months — and Commissioner Adam Silver made clear Friday the star must stop his “alarming” habit of flashing guns on social media.

The suspension for the upcoming season comes a month after a second video of Morant flashing a handgun was streamed online. The video of Morant showing a gun while sitting in the passenger seat of a car was posted after his eight-game suspension in March for a video in which he flashed a handgun in a Denver-area strip club.

Ja Morant is due to make around $33.5 million this season. He now stands to lose just over $300,000 per game — or approximately $7.5 million. He also will have to adhere to certain conditions before being reinstated, the NBA said.

Silver made clear the two-time All-Star’s decision-making is “disconcerting.”

“The potential for other young people to emulate Ja’s conduct is particularly concerning,” Silver said. “Under these circumstances, we believe a suspension of 25 games is appropriate and makes clear that engaging in reckless and irresponsible behavior with guns will not be tolerated.”

The league said Ja Morant “will be ineligible to participate in any public league or team activities, including preseason games” during his suspension.

The Grizzlies suspended Morant indefinitely from team activities after the second video surfaced, and they said Friday they respect the punishment for this “latest episode.”

“Our standards as a league and team are clear, and we expect that all team personnel will adhere to them,” the Grizzlies said.

Ja Morant apologized again Friday to the league, the Grizzlies, his teammates, and the city of Memphis in a statement issued through his representatives. He specifically told Silver, Grizzlies owner Robert Pera and Memphis general manager Zach Kleiman he is sorry.

Ja Morant
FILE – Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant warms up before an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Wednesday, March 22, 2023, in Memphis, Tenn. Morant has been suspended for the first 25 games of the upcoming season for his second known incident of displaying what appeared to be a firearm on social media, the NBA announced Friday, June 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill, File)

The guard with his own signature Nike shoe also apologized to children who look up to him for failing them as a role model. Morant made clear he’s had time to reflect and understands the hurt he might have caused.

“I promise I’m going to be better. To all of my sponsors, I’m going to be a better representation of our brands. And to all of my fans, I’m going to make it up to you, I promise,” Morant said.

Morant said he’ll keep working on both his mental health and decision-making.

On May 24, police conducted a welfare check on Ja Morant and said he was “fine” after cryptic messages appeared on the guard’s Instagram account only to be deleted. A police spokesman said Morant told officers he was “taking a break from social media.”

“I hope you’ll give me the chance to prove to you over time I’m a better man than what I’ve been showing you,” Morant said Friday.

NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio said the players association thinks the NBA went too far punishing Morant, calling it “excessive and inappropriate” and inconsistent with the league’s past discipline.

“We will explore with Ja all options and next steps,” Tremaglio said in a statement.

Nike also is sticking with Morant, whose Ja 1 shoe line debuted earlier this year.

“We are pleased that Ja is taking accountability and prioritizing his well-being,” Nike said.

Silver’s stance is clear: Ja Morant’s actions, even without being charged with a crime, have severe consequences, particularly with gun violence a massive problem and the guard one of the league’s most popular players.

“Waving them around … is not consistent with gun safety and is not the proper message that an NBA player, particularly one at Ja’s level, should be sending to the tens of millions of followers he has — and particularly when it’s an incident once again, where it’s been streamed live on social media,” Silver said earlier this month at the NBA Finals.

The suspension almost certainly means that Ja Morant will not be eligible for any end-of-season awards in 2024, such as MVP and All-NBA. Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement that goes into effect July 1, a player must appear in 65 games (with limited exceptions) to be eligible.

It’s also reasonable to think Morant will miss the league’s inaugural in-season tournament expected to start this fall and end sometime in December. The league has yet to announce if the tournament is definitely happening, nor has it released the schedule.

Silver said basketball needs to take a back seat for Morant before he can return to the NBA. Morant will have to finish a program with the league addressing the issues Silver said: “led him to repeat this destructive behavior.”

Ja Morant’s eight-game suspension cost him about $669,000 in forfeited salary after the first video surfaced on March 4 on his own Instagram account.

The second video captured May 13 was widely shared online after being streamed by a Morant associate. That was the same friend Morant said in February had been banned from the Grizzlies’ home arena for a year over a confrontation with members of the Indiana Pacers organization a week earlier.

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