Morant takes accountability for latest video, as Silver expresses disappointment
Ja Morant spoke out Tuesday night about his latest troubles, three days after the Memphis guard apparently held a firearm again while being broadcast on social media and was suspended by the Grizzlies from all team activities.
He’s also being investigated by the NBA for his actions, two months after the league suspended him for essentially the same thing — displaying a gun on social media.
“I know I’ve disappointed a lot of people who have supported me,” Morant said in a statement released Tuesday night by his representatives. “This is a journey and I recognize there is more work to do. My words may not mean much right now, but I take full accountability for my actions. I’m committed to continuing to work on myself.”
His comments came a few hours after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver expressed disappointment over the situation. Silver handed down an eight-game suspension in March; there is no way of knowing yet what penalties Morant may face this time.
“Honestly, I was shocked when I saw, this weekend, that video,” Silver said in a televised interview with ESPN before the draft lottery in Chicago. “We’re in the process of investigating it and we’ll figure out exactly what happened as best as we can. The video’s a bit grainy and all that, but I’m assuming the worst. We’ll figure out exactly what happened there.”
The first video, which cost Morant about $669,000 in forfeited salary, came out in March. The second was captured Saturday night and widely shared online. It 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 the Grizzlies have not commented on the specifics of the latest video.
The video streamed by Pack shows Morant briefly appearing to display a handgun. At the very brief moment — maybe less than a second — when Morant is shown holding what appears to be a weapon as he sits in the passenger seat of a vehicle, the livestream had 111 viewers.
“He could have injured, maimed, killed himself, someone else, with an act like that,” Silver said. “And also the acknowledgement that he’s a star. He has an incredibly huge following. And my concern — and I thought he shared with me — that millions if not tens of millions of kids globally would see him as having done something that was celebrating in a way that act of using a firearm in that fashion.”
Morant said in March that he needed to work on himself, and when the season ended a couple weeks ago, he offered similar thoughts.
“Being disciplined on both sides, off the court making better decisions and on the court being locked in even more,” Morant said. “Being a leader of this team, it pretty much starts with me. … I’ve got to be better in that area.”
Morant’s five-year, $194 million max contract is set to begin this coming season. He has deals with Nike and Powerade, though the sports drink company pulled an ad featuring Morant almost immediately after the March video emerged.
This is the third known NBA investigation surrounding Morant and the possible involvement of firearms so far in 2023.
Morant’s actions were investigated after a Jan. 29 incident in Memphis that he said led to Pack banned from 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 multiple 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 believed 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 when Morant started a livestream from inside a strip club while holding a gun. No charges were filed.
Morant and Pack also are involved in a civil lawsuit brought after an incident at Morant’s home last summer, in which a then-17-year-old alleged that they assaulted him. Morant filed a countersuit on April 12, accusing the teen of slander, battery and assault.
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