NEW YORK – Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant has been suspended for eight games without pay by the league for live streaming a video on Instagram where he could be seen holding a firearm at a Denver area nightclub earlier in March.
The sanction comes after Morant met with National Basketball Assocition (NBA) commissioner Adam Silver in New York to discuss the 23-year-old’s conduct. The two-time All-Star previously said he planned to take some “time away” and apologised for the incident.
“Ja’s conduct was irresponsible, reckless and potentially very dangerous,” Silver said in a statement announcing the suspension.
“It also has serious consequences given his enormous following and influence, particularly among young fans who look up to him.
“He has expressed sincere contrition and remorse for his behavior. 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.”
A league investigation of the March 4 incident did not conclude that the gun belonged to Morant, was brought by him into the nightclub or was displayed by him beyond a brief period.
The investigation also did not find that Morant possessed the gun while travelling with the team or in any NBA facility. Colorado authorities did not find sufficient cause to charge Morant with a crime.
Morant said in a statement after the incident he was seeking help to handle stress and emotional well-being and reportedly has undergone a counselling programme.
The 23-year-old playmaker was last season’s NBA Most Improved Player and an All-Star this season and last season. Morant was the second pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and the 2020 NBA Rookie of the Year.
Morant is averaging 27.1 points, 8.2 assists and 6.0 rebounds in 53 games this season for the Grizzlies, who currently sit second in the Western Conference. AFP, REUTERS