The NBA Suspends Ja Morant For 25 Games

Morant’s suspension will come with “conditions for his return.”

Sports
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The NBA has suspended star Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant for 25 games, starting at the beginning of the 2023-2024 season. The suspension also includes “conditions” for Morant’s return to the league, though those conditions have yet to be revealed.

Morant’s long-expected suspension follows a duo of Instagram videos in which he was seen brandishing a pistol — first in March, an incident for which he was suspended eight games, then again in May, when the Grizzlies suspended him from all team activities indefinitely. NBA commissioner Adam Silver and the league’s front office completed their investigation into Morant’s conduct weeks ago, but waited until the conclusion of the NBA Finals between the Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat as he didn’t want to “distract” from the games, a decision to withhold that some cynical fans saw as an opportunity for the league to extend its news cycle in between the end of the Finals and the NBA Draft.

Adrian Wojnarowski, the ESPN reporter who first broke the news of Morant’s suspension, had ruminated earlier in June that the league might suspend Morant for 17 games, which would make him ineligible for post-season awards, while other outlets (and even former NBA player Chandler Parsons) noted that he could be suspended for up to a full season. A 25-game suspension, almost a third of the season, is damaging, but the NBA didn’t empty the clip in punishment as Morant will be able to return to the court for a lion’s share of the 2023-24 season.

Next season, Morant will begin a five-year, $194M USD max contract that would have elevated to a supermax contract had he made the All-NBA First team last season. He also has lucrative endorsement deals with Nike and Powerade: every drop of his signature Ja 1 sneaker has sold out almost instantly, but the line’s future is in question, while Powerade pulled a commercial featuring him after the March incident.

See the NBA’s full statement below.

The NBA announced today that Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant has been suspended 25 games without pay for conduct detrimental to the league.

Morant posed with a firearm in a car during a live-streamed video on May 13, less than two months after he was suspended eight games without pay for the live streaming of a video on March 4 in which he displayed a firearm while in an intoxicated state at a Denver area nightclub.

The league office found that, on May 13, Morant intentionally and prominently displayed a gun while in a car with several other individuals as they were leaving a social gathering in Memphis. Morant wielded the firearm while knowing that he was being recorded and that the recording was being live streamed on Instagram Live, despite having made commitments to the NBA and public statements that he would not repeat the conduct for which he was previously disciplined. On May 16, Morant issued a statement taking full accountability for his actions.

Morant’s suspension begins immediately and will remain in effect through the first 25 games of the 2023-24 NBA regular season for which he is otherwise eligible and able to play. He will also be required to meet certain conditions before he returns to play and will be ineligible to participate in any public league or team activities, including preseason games, during the course of his 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.

“For Ja, basketball needs to take a back seat at this time. 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.”

Elsewhere in the world of controversial sports stars, HBO is working on a Barry Bonds documentary.

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