Grizzlies star Ja Morant misses at least 2 games after video shows obvious weapon

Yes Morant will be away from the Memphis Grizzlies for at least the next two games, the team announced Saturday, not long after the NBA opened an investigation into a social media post by the guard who allegedly carried himself with a gun hand streamed live a nightclub.

Morant said in a statement released by the agency that represents him that he takes “full responsibility” for his actions and that he will “take some time to get help.”

The video was streamed by Morant on his Instagram page early Saturday, hours after the Grizzlies played in Denver. They flew to Los Angeles on Saturday to play the Clippers on Sunday and the Lakers on Tuesday.

Morant will miss at least those two games, the Grizzlies said without further comment.

“We are aware of and are investigating a social media post involving Ja Morant,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said earlier Saturday.

The League will attempt to speak to Morant as part of this investigation, although it’s unclear when a meeting can take place. Morant apologized in a statement released by Tandem Sports + Entertainment.

“I take full responsibility for my actions last night,” Morant said. “I’m sorry to my family, teammates, coaches, fans, partners, the city of Memphis and the entire Grizzlies organization for letting you down. I will take some time to get help and work on learning better ways to manage stress and my overall wellbeing.”

It wasn’t immediately clear what Morant meant by “help” or if he planned to stay away from the team longer than the two-game minimum announced by the Grizzlies.

If the league finds any wrongdoing, it could fine or suspend Morant. Based on the Grizzlies’ statement, Morant could play Golden State at home on Thursday at the earliest. His Instagram and Twitter accounts were deactivated shortly after the Grizzlies announced his absence.

Memphis is currently No. 2 in the Western Conference rankings, led by Morant, a two-time All-Star averaging 27.1 points and 8.2 assists per game.

Incident after Pacers game

This is at least the second time Morant has been the subject of a league probe in recent weeks. Morant’s actions were being investigated following a Jan. 29 incident in Memphis that he said resulted in a friend of his being banned from home games for a year.

This incident followed a game against the Indiana Pacers; Citing unnamed sources, The Indianapolis Star and USA Today reported that several Pacers members saw a red dot aimed at them, and The Athletic reported that a Pacers guard believed the laser was attached to a weapon.

The NBA confirmed that unnamed individuals were banned from the arena, but said its investigation found no evidence anyone had been threatened with a gun.

Morant responded to the incident by tweeting that the reports “paint this negative picture of me and my family and have banned my brother from home games for a year. Unbelievable.” During the Jan. 29 game, there was barking between Pacers players and friends of Morant who were sitting on the sidelines. A close friend of Morant’s, Vomte Pack, was being escorted out of the arena when Pacers bench players shouted in Pack’s direction.

Pack and Morant are also involved in a civil lawsuit brought after an incident at Morant’s home last summer in which a 17-year-old claimed they assaulted him. The Shelby County District Attorney’s Office said in January it was “aware of the incident and, after carefully reviewing the facts, decided there was insufficient evidence to proceed with a case.”

NBA precedent

There is precedent for the NBA to sanction a player for gun conduct. In January 2010, Washington’s then-commissioner David Stern suspended Gilbert Arenas indefinitely without pay after saying the player’s behavior made him “currently unfit for the pitch”.

The suspension followed Arenas being photographed before a game in Philadelphia playfully pointing his index fingers in a gun imitation at his teammates while under investigation by federal and local authorities after admittedly bringing guns into the Wizards’ locker room.

Arenas ended up missing 50 games the remainder of the 2009–10 season.

2nd draft pick in the 2019 NBA draft, Morant has become a full-fledged superstar. His $194 million five-year extension with the Grizzlies begins next season and would increase to about $230 million if he becomes an All-NBA team this season.

He is also a sought-after endorser. At Christmas, Nike introduced Morant’s first signature shoe, which is set to be released in the coming weeks. And earlier this week, Powerade announced a multi-year endorsement deal with Morant.

On the same day the Powerade deal was uncovered, the Washington Post ran a story, based on obtained police records, detailing how Morant and some associates “were accused of threatening and even violent behavior,” the newspaper said.

The questions about Morant’s behavior come at a time when gun violence is once again a prominent topic of conversation in the sports world.

Top NBA draft pick Brandon Miller and his Alabama teammate Jaden Bradley have been linked to the crime scene through courtroom revelations. Neither has been charged or accused of a crime, but then-teammate Darius Miles and another man are facing murder charges.

And the New Mexico state men’s basketball season was ended in February amid a fatal shooting and allegations of locker room fogging. Mike Peake, the New Mexico State player involved in the November shooting of New Mexico player Brandon Travis, said he acted in self-defense and was not charged with a crime.

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