Morant takes responsibility for actions in statement, Silver says he was ‘shocked’ by video
Ja Morant made his first public statement Tuesday since he was seen apparently brandishing a gun in a live stream on social media for a second time.
The Grizzlies acted quickly to suspend Morant from team activities — something relatively easy for Memphis to do in the offseason when there are no team activities — and the NBA said it was investigating the incident. League sources expect the NBA to come down much harder than Morant’s eight-game suspension in March when he flashed a gun on his own live stream while in a club outside Denver.
“I know I’ve disappointed a lot of people who have supported me,” Morant said in the new statement released Tuesday. “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.”
This statement sounds very similar to the one he released in March after that gun incident. However, that was not the first incident surrounding Morant, who is involved in a civil lawsuit after he allegedly punched and flashed a gun at a teenage player following a pickup game at Morant’s home in Memphis (Morant has countersued in that case). Then some of Morant’s associates were banned from the FedEx Forum in Memphis following a run-in with members of the Indiana Pacers traveling party that included a red laser (the kind often associated with a gunsight) being pointed at Pacers personnel (the NBA investigation found no evidence of weapons at the scene). Through all these incidents, the Memphis Grizzlies organization had conversations with Morant trying to guide him.
After the March gun incident, Morant went into counseling in Florida saying later he needed to learn how to “cope with stress in a positive way.” He said that moment did not show who he truly is. Morant met with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and that time to discuss his actions.
Before the NBA Draft Lottery Tuesday, Silver told Malika Andrews of ESPN he was caught off guard by the moment.
“Honestly, I was shocked when I saw, this weekend, that video,” Silver said in the televised interview. “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.”
Morant did not break any laws by flashing the weapons on social media, a popular trend. However, it is an image issue for his employer — both the Grizzlies and the NBA — that ties into decades-old image concerns by league officials.
Morant will likely face a lengthy suspension without pay for this gun incident. Flashing a gun in March cost him $668,659 in direct pay, but it also saw PowerAde delay and scale back its endorsement campaign with him. Nike released its first signature shoe with Morant in April, but it was done in a more low-key manner that is often associated with the release of a signature shoe. Morant’s suspension and how it impacted the Grizzlies was one factor in him not making an All-NBA team this season, keeping his new contract at $194.3 million over five years — had he made an All-NBA team that would have jumped $39 million.
Morant will likely miss out on his first checks from that new contract, set to pay him $33.5 million next season, because of the suspension expected to come down from the league office.