The NBA announced earlier today that Grizzlies All-Star point guard Ja Morant is suspended for the first 25 games of the 2023-24 regular season without pay.
The guard will be ineligible to participate in league or team activities and he must meet certain conditions before returning. The suspension also means that Morant will be ineligible for All-NBA awards as he will miss the minimum 65-game threshold.
The Memphis Grizzlies put out a statement regarding the league's decision: “We respect the League's decision to suspend Ja Morant following this latest episode. Our standards as a league and team are clear, and we expect that all team personnel will adhere to them.”
Morant was seen on May 14th in an Instagram Live video holding a firearm inside a car. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was made aware of the situation and discussed the possible punishment for Morant throughout the NBA Playoffs. Morant released a statement on May 16th taking accountability for the incident as it was the second instance in which he was involved with a firearm this year.
Commissioner Silver released a statement on the extent of the suspension saying, “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.”
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski posted a statement from Morant where he promised to work on his mental health and become a better role model to children that watch him.
“To the kids who look up to me, I'm sorry for failing you as a role model. I promise I'm going to be better. To all of my sponsors, I'm going to be a better representation of our brands. And to all of my fans, I'm going to make it up to you, I promise.”
ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne spoke with Nike in which the company said that they will not cut ties with Morant.
“We are pleased that Ja is taking accountability and prioritizing his well-being. We will continue to support him on and off the court.” Other endorsement companies have yet to respond.
The National Basketball Players Association expressed that they feel that the NBA’s discipline of Morant was ‘excessive’ and ‘inappropriate’.
Executive Director Tamike Tremaglio put out a statement:
"Ja has expressed his remorse and accepted responsibility for his actions, and we support him unequivocally as he does whatever is necessary to represent himself, our players and our league in the best possible light. As to the discipline imposed, which keeps him off the court until December and requires some unstated conditions to be met before he can return, we believe it is excessive and inappropriate for a number of reasons including the facts involved in this particular incident, and that it is not fair and consistent with past discipline in our league. We will explore with Ja all options and next steps."
Grizzlies and NBA fans can now relax as the verdict is out and they can look forward to the upcoming 2023-24 season.
The Grizzlies guard will have months to work on himself, including completing programs to prevent incidents of that behavior. Morant will lose out on becoming All-NBA due to the new CBA rules and he will lose out on millions of dollars, but being mentally prepared off and on the court is the biggest concern.