NBA suspends Ja Morant 8 games for having gun in video
MIAMI (AP) — The NBA suspended Memphis Grizzilies guard Ja Morant eight games without pay on Wednesday after determining that his displaying a firearm at a club in suburban Denver earlier this month was “conduct detrimental to the league.”
Morant will miss his sixth game when the Grizzlies play in Miami on Wednesday night. He will miss the next two games and be eligible to return on Monday when Memphis plays Dallas.
The games he already missed will count toward the suspension, and Morant will forfeit about $669,000 in salary.
“Ja’s conduct was irresponsible, reckless and potentially very dangerous,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “It also has serious consequences given his enormous following and influence, particularly among young fans who look up to him.”
Silver met with Morant in New York before announcing the league’s decision. The Grizzlies had no immediate comment; coach Taylor Jenkins is scheduled to hold his standard pregame availability Wednesday evening in Miami before the game against the Heat.
The league’s investigation, which started almost immediately after the March 4 incident in which Morant livestreamed himself on Instagram, found that he was “holding a firearm in an intoxicated state” — but did not prove that the gun was owned by Morant “or was displayed by him beyond a brief period.”
The league investigation also did not find that Morant had the gun with him on Memphis’ flight to Denver, or that he possessed the gun while in any NBA facility. Police in Colorado said last week that they looked into the circumstances surrounding the video and concluded that there was no reason to charge Morant with a crime.
“He has expressed sincere contrition and remorse for his behavior,” Silver said. “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.”
The Grizzlies played at Denver on March 3. At 5:19 a.m. the next day, Morant started a livestream from inside a strip club called Shotgun Willies in Glendale, Colorado. The video quickly went viral, and trouble escalated.
The Grizzlies initially said Morant would miss at least two games. Hours later, Morant said in a statement distributed through the agency that represents him that he takes “full responsibility” for his actions and that he was going to “take some time away to get help.” ESPN reported that Morant sought counseling at a facility in Florida.
The two-game absence was followed by the team announcing last week that Morant would miss at least four more games, a stretch that concludes Wednesday. Morant then met with Silver on Wednesday as the NBA’s investigation was concluding. He knows now when he’ll be eligible to return.
It wasn’t immediately clear if Morant will be ready to play on Monday.
Morant, a two-time All-Star, is averaging 27.1 points and 8.2 assists per game this season.
This marked at least the second time in recent weeks that Morant was the subject of a league investigation. Morant’s actions were investigated after a Jan. 29 incident in Memphis that he said led to a friend of his being banned from home games for a year.
That incident followed a game against the Indiana Pacers; citing unnamed sources, The Indianapolis Star and USA Today reported that multiple members of the Pacers saw a red dot pointed at them, and The Athletic reported that a Pacers security guard believed the laser was attached to a gun.
The NBA confirmed that unnamed individuals were banned from the arena but said its investigation found no evidence that anyone was threatened with a weapon.
Morant and a close friend also are involved in a civil lawsuit brought after an incident at Morant’s home last summer, in which a 17-year-old alleged that they assaulted him.
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Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press