Memphis Grizzlies star point guard Ja Morant was suspended for 25 games without pay, his second significant suspension in less than two months, after he was again seen waving a gun on Instagram Live, the NBA announced Friday.
Morant posed with a gun in a car during a May 13 livestream after leaving a social gathering in Memphis, the league said in a statement. He was previously suspended eight games without pay for waving a gun March 4 while intoxicated during a livestream at a Denver area club, the league said.
Morant’s suspension begins immediately and will remain in effect through the first 25 games of the 2023-24 NBA regular season. The league said he will also be required to meet certain conditions before he returns to the hardwood and will be ineligible to participate in any public league or team activities, including preseason games, during the suspension.
“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,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
“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,” Silver said.
“For Ja, basketball needs to take a back seat at this time," he continued. "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.”
Morant apologized "for the harm I've done" in a statement Friday.
“I’ve had time to reflect and I realize how much hurt I’ve caused. 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," he said.
"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."
Morant added he's spending the offseason continuing to work on his mental health and decision making.
"I’m also going to be training so that I’m ready to go when I can be back on the court. I know my teammates are going to hold it down and I’m so sorry I won’t be out there with you at the beginning of the season."
The Grizzlies tweeted a response to Morant's suspension Friday.
"We respect the League's decision to suspend Ja Morant following his latest episode," the team said. "Our standards as a league and team are clear, and we expect that all team personnel will adhere to them."
Tamika Tremaglio, executive director of the NBA's players' union, said in a statement Friday that Morant has expressed his remorse and he is supported "unequivocally." Tremaglio, however, called Morant's 25-game suspension "excessive and inappropriate."
"As to the discipline imposed, which keeps him off the court until December and requires some unstated conditions to be met before he can return, we believe it is excessive and inappropriate for a number of reasons," Tremaglio said. "Including the facts involved in this particular incident, and that it is not fair and consistent with past discipline in our league. We will explore with Ja all options and next steps."
Morant broke his silence in May on his latest gun controversy. He said he was taking “full accountability.”
“I know I’ve disappointed a lot of people who have supported me,” Morant, 23, 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,” he said in a statement shared by his representative.
The Grizzlies, at the time, said Morant was suspended pending a league review.