Grizzlies suspend Ja Morant in wake of latest incident
Morant was live streaming on his own Instagram from a nightclub very early on Saturday morning. As Morant rapped shirtless and to the music, he held up what appeared to be a gun in his left hand.
Not that there’s ever a good time for an NBA star to take a gun on social media, but Morant’s timing was particularly bad. Just days ago, the Washington Post ran a story about Morant allegedly threatening a security guard at a mall and brandishing a gun after an altercation with a 17-year-old. The NBA investigated Morant and his entourage for allegedly pointing guns at the Indiana Pacers team bus in January, but they could not confirm the presence of a gun.
Memphis announced that Morant will not play in the Grizzlies’ next two games against the Clippers and the Lakers on Sunday and Tuesday. The NBA will investigate. League spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement: “We are aware of and are investigating a social media post involving Ja Morant.”
Morant’s attorney responded to the Post story by saying, “Every single allegation involving a firearm has been fully investigated and could not be corroborated,” which is distinct from denying that firearms were present.
Neither the Grizzlies nor the NBA took any action following Morant’s numerous other incidents. Still, in this case, the league should be able to confirm the presence of a weapon since it was video.
It’s reminiscent of the NBA’s reaction when teammates Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton brought guns into the Washington Wizards locker room. Before league or federal authorities could complete their investigation, Commissioner David Stern suspended Arenas indefinitely for solving the incident. The final straw came when Arenas pointed “finger guns” at his teammates before a game.
Eventually, the Liga suspended Arenas for the remainder of the 2009–10 season and he was sentenced to two years’ probation. Crittenton was also suspended for the season and murdered a 22-year-old mother of four a year later. In 2015 he was sentenced to 23 years in prison.
That’s why the team and the NBA are finally acting, albeit belatedly. Guns are serious business. Former Grizzlies center Lorenzen Wright was shot to death in suburban Memphis in 2010. And the most famous rapper in town was murdered two years ago.
Perhaps the suspension will serve as a wake-up call for Morant. A two-game ban is much milder than the alternatives.