Following the conclusion of the NBA Finals — during which commissioner Adam Silver said he didn’t want to overshadow the championships with any Morant decision — the NBA handed down their punishment following the May 2023 incident.
“Ja Morant’s decision to once again wield a firearm on social media is alarming and disconcerting given his similar conduct in March for which he was already suspended eight games,” Silver said in a statement.
“The potential for other young people to emulate Ja’s conduct is particularly concerning. 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.”
Following the suspension, Morant issued his own statement where he apologized once again for his actions and “how much hurt I caused.” “To the kids who look up to me, I’m sorry for failing you as a role model,” Morant said. “I promise I’m going to be better.” Morant added that he would spend the offseason and suspension “continuing to work on my own mental health and decision making.”
“Morant posed with a firearm in a car during a live-streamed video on May 13, less than two months after he was suspended eight games without pay for the live streaming of a video on March 4 in which he displayed a firearm while in an intoxicated state at a Denver area nightclub,” the NBA said Friday.
Despite that previous suspension, and Morant’s pledge to both his team and Silver that he would not “repeat the conduct,” he still “intentionally and prominently displayed a gun” in the May 13 video.
Morant’s suspension also states that he’s ineligible to participate in team activities and the NBA preseason. Additionally, Morant will be “required to meet certain conditions” before he is officially reinstated. (Because of a new games-played criteria, the 25-game suspension also makes Morant ineligible for any major NBA awards this upcoming season.)
Silver continued, “For Ja, basketball needs to take a back seat at this time. Prior to his return to play, he will be required to formulate and fulfill a program with the league that directly addresses the circumstances that led him to repeat this destructive behavior.”
The initial Instagram Live video came just days after a Washington Post report accused Morant of both beating up a 17-year-old boy and threatening a mall security guard during separate incidents in July 2022.
Morant’s alleged fight with the teenager during a pickup basketball game was previously reported — the boy and his mother sued Morant in Jan. 2023, at which point the incident became widely known — but the report earlier this week revealed new details culled from police interviews, including a claim that Morant threatened the teenager with a gun following the physical altercation.
While Morant didn’t pull the gun on the teen, he had his hand on the firearm, the teenager told police. Morant didn’t deny “brandishing” a weapon at the time of his police interview. Witnesses, however, told police that the teenager “squared up” to fight Morant after the ball-throwing incident and didn’t mention the gun. No charges were filed against Morant.
As the Commercial Appeal reports, during his season-ending exit interview following the Grizzlies playoff loss, Morant said, “I have to be better with my decision-making. That’s pretty much it. Off-the-court issues affected us as an organization. Yeah, just more discipline. Less drama. Less Ja on the blogs for something I said.”