Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant finds himself once again in the center of controversy over the unsafe handling of a firearm.
The team announced on Sunday that Morant has been suspended from all offseason activities, as the NBA league office commences an investigation into a recently surfaced video (see video above).
This comes less than two months after Morant and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver met to discuss a similar incident, which led to Morant’s eight-game suspension.
“I was shocked when I saw this weekend that video,” Silver told ESPN’s Malika Andrews during a Tuesday night interview in Chicago. “Now, we’re in the process of investigating it, and we’ll figure out exactly what happened to the best we can. The video is a bit grainy and all that, but I’m assuming the worst.”
In response to the suspension, Morant released a statement addressing his actions:
“I know I’ve disappointed a lot of people who have supported me,” Morant said. “This is a journey and I recognize there is more work to do. My words may not mean much right now, but I take full accountability for my actions. I’m committed to continuing to work on myself.”
The NBA has a very clear stance on firearms and other weapons, with strict rules outlined in their collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
The policy states that players are prohibited from possessing a firearm “of any kind” in numerous settings, including “whenever a player is traveling on any NBA-related business, whether on behalf of the player’s team, the NBA or any League-related entity.” This includes team planes, stadiums/arenas, practice facilities, and any other NBA-related events.
Ja Morant needs to Learn the Four Rules of Gun Safety, developed by Colonel Jeff Cooper:
- Treat every firearm as if it’s loaded: Even if you believe a gun is unloaded, always handle it as if it’s loaded. Never assume that a firearm is unloaded.
- Never point a firearm at anything you are not willing to destroy: Always be aware of where the firearm is pointed. Ensure it’s never directed towards something you do not intend to shoot, even when you are ‘sure’ it’s not loaded.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target and you have made the decision to shoot: This rule helps prevent accidental discharges. Your finger should rest along the side of the gun’s frame or slide, not on the trigger.
- Be sure of your target and what is beyond it: Before you pull the trigger, you need to clearly identify your target and what’s behind it. Bullets can penetrate a target and hit what’s behind it, or they can miss the target altogether. Always have a safe backstop.
Silver also revealed more details about his previous conversation with Morant in the aftermath of the first incident involving the misuse of a firearm on social media. The basketball player appeared on Instagram Live holding up a handgun in a Denver strip club while apparently intoxicated.
4kt Ja in the Skrip club wit the blicky. pic.twitter.com/mFEOvZ5MVY— DJ Akademiks (@Akademiks) March 4, 2023
“We talked directly about the consequences first,” Silver said. “Before we got to a subsequent potential to have done something wrong, we were very focused on the misconduct that was in front of us at the time. Frankly, most of our conversation was about how incredibly serious the first incident was.”
He continued, “Again, the consequences there — an eight-game suspension — was pretty serious and something that he, at least to me, seemed to take incredibly seriously in that time. And we spoke for a long time about not just the consequences that could have on his career, but the safety issues around it — [Morant] could’ve injured, maimed, killed himself, someone else with an act like that — and also the acknowledgment that he’s a star. He has an incredibly huge following, and [we discussed] my concern — and I thought he shared with me — that millions, if not tens of millions, of kids globally would have seen him do something that was celebrating in a way that act of using a firearm in that fashion.”
We will see how the Ja Morant situation develops.— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) March 4, 2023
There are likely legal consequences because he is an out of state resident viewed in possession of a gun.
Here’s the CBA language for NBA discipline pic.twitter.com/S0cBpiGthC
Morant’s second suspension in less than two months is a substantial blow for the rising star, and could potentially affect his standing with the Grizzlies and the league.
It also presents a setback for the Grizzlies, as Morant’s absence from offseason activities may affect the team’s preparation for the upcoming NBA season.
Updates on Morant’s situation and the NBA’s investigation will be provided as more information becomes available.
What are your thoughts on Morant’s behavior?