The National Basketball Association is unhappy with the length of the suspension given to Memphis Grizzlies‘ guard Ja Morant. On Friday, the NBA suspended Morant for 25 games without pay for foul play. The support came as a result of the second Morant incident involving weapons in social media videos. Morant will also have to fulfill other conditions before he can return to court.
In a statement, the NBPA called the suspension “excessive” and said that the punishment did not correspond to the past discipline awarded by the league. Here is the full statement
“Ja expressed regret and took responsibility for his actions, and we unequivocally support him, as he does everything necessary to represent himself, our players and our league in the best light,” Tremaglio said. “As for the imposed discipline, which keeps him from trial until December and requires the fulfilment of undeclared conditions before he can return, we consider it excessive and inappropriate for a number of reasons, including the facts related to this incident, and that it is not fair and incompatible with the past discipline in our league. We investigate with Ja all options and next steps.”
The league “discovered enough additional information” during its investigation, Silver said during his annual state address before Game 1 of the NBA Finals between Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat on June 1.
“Ja Morant’s decision to re-use a firearm in the media is alarming and disconcerting given his similar conduct in March for which eight games have already been suspended,” Silver said in Friday’s NBA statement. “The potential of other young people to imitate Ja’s conduct is particularly worrying. Under these circumstances, we believe that the suspension of 25 games is appropriate and makes it clear that the use of weapons with reckless and irresponsible behavior will not be tolerated.
“For Ja, basketball needs to take a back seat right now. Before returning to the game, you will be required to formulate and run a program with the league that directly addresses the circumstances that led you to repeat this destructive behavior.”
Morant also issued a statement in which he apologized to the league and fans. He said he’d spend the season working on his mental health and decision-making, and he’d “compensate” everyone he disappointed.
“I’ve had time to reflect and understand how hurt I’ve been,” Morant said in the statement. “I want to apologize to the NBA, the Grizzlies, my teammates and the city of Memphis. Adam Silver, Zach Kleiman and Robert Pera — who gave me the opportunity to be a professional athlete and who supported me — I’m sorry for the damage I’ve done. For the kids who admire me, I’m sorry for failing as a model. I promise I’ll be better. For all my sponsors, I’m going to be a better representation of our brands. And for all my fans, I’ll make it up to you, I promise.
“I spend the off-season and my suspension continuing to work on my mental health and decision-making. I will also be preparing for training so that I can go to court. I know my teammates will support him, and I’m sorry I’m not with you at the beginning of the season.
“I hope it offers me the opportunity to show you over time that I am a better man than I have shown you.”
Nike also issued a statement concerning Morant, whose first signature shoe was issued in December:
Morant has not been charged with any crime as a result of his actions. However, the NBA has become increasingly concerned about Morant’s behavior during what he described as a mentally difficult year. After suffering a hand injury during his team’s first round of Los Angeles Lakers defeats, Morant told the media, “I’m almost numb with everything now. I’m not even surprised. One thing at a time.”
At the end of May, the police conducted a welfare check on Morant, after the 23-year-old sent Instagram a series of captions on his loved ones’ images reading: “Love ya ma”, “Love ya pops”, “You from the greatest baby girl love ya”, and, simply, “Bye. Morant told the police, “It’s good” and “social media space.”
The NBA suspended Morant for eight games in March after he filmed himself on Instagram Live firing a gun from the Colorado Shotgun Willie’s Willie strip club. The suspension was followed by a Washington Post report describing three separate incidents involving Morant, two of which were reported to the police.
A 17-year-old man reportedly was accused to the authorities that twice the All-Star punched him in the head and threatened him with a gun during a basketball game at Morant’s home in July 2022. Also that month, Morant and his close friends were reportedly asked to leave the Memphis shopping mall parking lot after a verbal fight at a shoe store on the Finish Line. A security guard said Morant threatened him and a friend of the Grizzlies star attacked him in the parking lot. Neither charge led to criminal charges.
In January, members of the Indiana Pacers accused The Athletic that Morant’s friends confronted them inside the FedEx Forum, allegedly pointing a red laser at them that they believed “100 percent” was attached to a gun. A federation investigation “can’t confirm that any individuals threaten others with weapons,” but many Morant partners have been banned from the games due to the confrontation.
Morant quit Grizzlies in early March and joined a counseling program in Florida to “learn better ways to deal with my stress and my overall health,” he said in a speech. He left the clinic a few days later and met Silver at the New York NBA office on March 15.
“Ja’s behavior is irresponsible, reckless and potentially dangerous.” Silver said in a statement announcing the suspension of Morant’s eight matches without pay, which made him eligible to return on March 20, which also had serious consequences for his watch and enormous influence, especially to young fans who admire him.” He expressed sincere remorse and regret for his behavior. Ja also made it clear to me that he learned from this incident and that he understood his obligations and responsibilities to the Memphis Grizzlies and the NBA community much larger than his playing style on the field.”
Morant returned to the Grizzlies on March 22, less than three weeks after their game in Denver. He suffered a hand injury in a loss to the Lakers in the first round of the Memphis game and missed his team’s second game win. He scored 45 points in Game 3, but only 10 points in a 40-point loss in Game 6 ended. The Grizzlies won 51 games last season and entered the playoffs as the No. 2 seed of the Western Conference.
Morant’s eight-game ban limited him to 61 regular season games and left him missing an All-NBA roster spot, which could raise his maximum contract by 40 million dollars over the next five years. His latest suspension will prevent him from meeting the threshold of 65 new games for the All-NBA qualification for the 2023-24 season.