Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant has been suspended 25 games in the 2023-24 season after a video surfaced of him on Instagram Live brandishing a handgun in May.
Morant will be suspended without pay and will “be required to meet certain conditions before he returns to play and will be ineligible to participate in any public league or team activities, including preseason games, during the course of his suspension,” the NBA announced.
NBA Communications @NBAPR
The following has been released by the NBA. pic.twitter.com/dzDSb4uCk3
“I’ve had time to reflect and I realize how much hurt I’ve caused,” Morant said in a statement. “I want to apologize to the NBA, the Grizzlies, my teammates and the city of Memphis. To Adam Silver, Zach Kleiman and Robert Pera—who gave me the opportunity to be a professional athlete and have supported me—I’m sorry for the harm I’ve done.
“To the kids who look up to me, I’m sorry for failing you as a role model. 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.”
Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn
Ja Morant statement: pic.twitter.com/KJCxTVEIRj
In a separate statement, the Grizzlies said they “respect the league’s decision to suspend Ja Morant following this latest episode. Our standards as a league and team are clear, and we expect that all team personnel will adhere to them.”
Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes reported the suspension could still be appealed by the NBA’s Players’ Association:
NBA TV @NBATV
The NBA initially suspended Morant, 23, for eight games in March after a video emerged of him appearing to have a gun in a Denver nightclub. A second incident in May—this time with Morant holding what appeared to be a gun in a car—has now led to a second suspension.
Grizzlies star Ja Morant was allegedly seen holding a gun on an IG Live yesterday.pic.twitter.com/bqvwbwgd9m
Legion Hoops @LegionHoops
Ja Morant was allegedly seen showing off a gun on IG Live yesterday 😳 pic.twitter.com/fdhjBbIn9c
The Grizzlies promptly suspended Morant from any team activities pending the NBA’s investigation into the matter.
Morant apologized in March after the initial video was released and before the league handed down a suspension.
“I take full responsibility for my actions last night,” he said in a March statement. “I’m sorry to my family, teammates, coaches, fans, partners, the city of Memphis and the entire Grizzlies organization for letting you down. I’m going to take some time away to get help and work on learning better methods of dealing with stress and my overall well-being.”
He also told reporters later in April that he had to be “better with my decision-making” and needed to exhibit “more discipline.”
Keith Smith @KeithSmithNBA
Ja Morant had a great chance at being All-NBA this year, which would have bumped his salary on his extension by nearly $40 million. His absence last season while suspended and after, likely cost him plenty of votes.
Months later, he’s doing the same stuff. I just don’t get it.
While Morant continues to be one of the league’s brightest young stars on the court, averaging 26.2 points and 8.1 assists per game this past season, he’s run into issues off it in the past year.
A high school basketball prospect sued Morant after accusing the Grizzlies star and his friend, Davonte Pack, of punching him during a pickup game at Morant’s house in the summer of 2022. He also said that Morant went into his house after the assault and came back out to threaten him with a gun.
Days before the pickup game, a Memphis mall security guard told police that Morant and members of his group threatened him and shoved him in the head during an altercation in the mall’s parking lot.
And after a game against the Indiana Pacers this past season, Pack was banned from Memphis’ FedExForum after he stepped onto the court to confront Indiana’s players.
He was removed from the game, but after the contest, a red laser was reportedly pointed at members of the Pacers’ traveling party from inside Morant’s SUV. However, the NBA’s investigation “could not corroborate that any individual threatened others with a weapon.”
Given his history of incidents involving weapons and alleged weapons, Morant’s hefty suspension doesn’t come as much of a surprise.