Grizzlies suspend Ja Morant after another gun video surfaces on social media

Yes Morant was suspended by the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday after he appeared to hold a gun in another social media video streamed live on Instagram, the latest in a series of troubling incidents involving the two-time All-Star guard.

This is the second time in less than three months that Morant has been seen on Instagram with what appeared to be a weapon. The first led to an eight-game NBA suspension that was handed down in March and cost Morant about $669,000 in wages.

It is unclear what sanctions Morant may face for the second video, which was recorded Saturday night and shared widely online. The video was streamed on the Instagram account of Morant associate Davonte Pack, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because neither the NBA nor the Grizzlies have commented on the details of the latest video.

“We are aware of the social media post involving Ja Morant and are in the process of gathering more information,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said.

Grizzlies, whose season is over, said Morant is suspended from all team activities “awaiting league review.”

The video streamed by Pack shows Morant in the passenger seat of a vehicle that briefly appears to display a gun. In the very brief moment — perhaps less than a second — where Morant is shown holding what appears to be a weapon, the live stream had 111 viewers.

The video that got Morant suspended for the season happened when the Grizzlies star went live on his own Instagram account while holding a gun in a club in the Denver suburbs in early March. After it went viral, Morant announced he was taking time away from basketball to seek help, without specifying what kind of treatment he was receiving. ESPN later reported that he was getting counseling in Florida, which the team eventually confirmed but did not share any details.

“Ja’s conduct was irresponsible, reckless and potentially very dangerous,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement after meeting with Morant and deciding on the length of the suspension. “It also has serious implications given his huge following and influence, especially among young fans who look up to him.

“He has expressed genuine remorse and remorse for his conduct,” Silver continued. “Ja has also made it clear to me that he has learned from this incident and that he understands his obligations and responsibilities to the Memphis Grizzlies and the broader NBA community that extend far beyond his play on the court.”

Morant sat down for an interview with ESPN during his suspension and took responsibility for the video.

“I don’t condone any kind of violence,” Morant told ESPN. “But I take full responsibility for my actions. I made a bad mistake and I can see the picture I painted over myself with my recent mistakes. But in the future I want to show everyone who Ja really is, what I walk out and change this narrative.”

When the season ended a few weeks ago, Morant again said he needed to work on his decision-making.

“Being disciplined on both ends, off the court making better decisions and on the court being locked in even more,” Morant said after a season-ending loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. “Being the leader of this team, it pretty much starts with me. … I have to be better in that area.”

Morant’s five-year, max $194 million contract to begin in the coming season. It could have escalated to a supermax if he made All-NBA this season; he was not voted onto that team, costing him about $39 million in future earnings. He has endorsement deals with Nike and Powerade, though the sports drink company released an ad featuring Morant almost immediately after the March video surfaced.

His talent on the pitch is not a question. He averaged 27.4 points last season, 26.2 points this season and helped Memphis secure the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

But the Grizzlies season ended amid dysfunction. They were ousted in Round 1 by the Lakers and were eliminated in a 40-point loss to close out a streak where trash talk and pranks became as much of a story as actually playing basketball.

And the off-season is not starting so well too, especially after Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said after the playoffs that the team needs to eliminate “unnecessary drama, self-inflicted decisions that take away from the team.”

“It’s going to be completely different going into next year,” Jenkins said.

This will be at least the third known NBA investigation surrounding Morant and the possible involvement of firearms so far in 2023.

Morant’s actions came under scrutiny after a Jan. 29 incident in Memphis that he said led to Pack — someone Morant calls “my brother” — being banned from the Grizzlies’ home games for a year.

That incident followed a game against the Indiana Pacers; citing unnamed sources, The Indianapolis Star and USA Today reported that several members of the Pacers saw a red dot pointed at them while they were near the loading dock where their bus was located, and The Athletic reported that a Pacers security guard thought the laser was attached to a gun.

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

Then came the Denver-area incident in the early hours of March 4 after the Grizzlies played a road game against the Nuggets. At 5:19 a.m., Morant started a live stream from inside a strip club called Shotgun Willies in Glendale, Colorado. No charges were brought and police said there were no complaint calls originating from Morant holding the gun.

Morant and Pack are also involved in a civil lawsuit filed after an incident at Morant’s home last summer in which a then 17-year-old alleged they assaulted him. Morant filed a counterclaim on April 12, accusing the teenager of slander, violence and assault.


AP Sports Writer Teresa M. Walker in Nashville contributed to this report.


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