The NBA has suspended Memphis Grizzlies player Ja Morant for the first 25 games of the 2023-24 season for conduct detrimental to the league, the league said on Friday.
Morant was suspended from team activities on May 14 after a video leaked on social media showing him brandishing a firearm. Morant was suspended for eight games by the NBA after a similar incident in March when he was recorded on Instagram Live clutching a firearm while inebriated at a Denver-area club.
“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,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “The possibility that other young people will emulate Ja’s behavior is particularly concerning.” Under these conditions, we feel a ban of 25 games is reasonable and demonstrates that dangerous and irresponsible firearms behavior will not be condoned.”
According to the league, the suspension will come with limitations for his reinstatement. Basketball must take a back seat for Ja at this time,” Silver stated in a statement. “Prior to his return to play, he will be required to develop and implement a league-wide program that directly addresses the circumstances that led him to repeat this destructive behavior.”
During his suspension, Morant will be unable to participate in any public league or team activity, including preseason games. Morant, who is expected to earn around $33.5 million this season, will now lose slightly more than $300,000 per game, or approximately $7.5 million.
“I’ve had time to reflect, and I’ve realized how much hurt I’ve caused,” Morant said in a statement released Friday. “I’d like to apologize to the NBA, the Grizzlies, my teammates, and Memphis.” I apologize to Adam Silver, Zach Kleiman, and Robert Pera, who gave me the opportunity to be a professional athlete and have supported me. I apologize to the children who look up to me for failing to be a role model. I promise to do better in the future. I’m going to be a better representative of our brands for all of my sponsors. And to all of my fans, I vow I’ll make it up to you.
“I’m spending my offseason and suspension working on my own mental health and decision-making.” I’ll also be training so that I’m ready to go when I return to the court. I know my teammates will do well, and I’m sorry I won’t be there with you at the start of the season. I hope you’ll give me the chance to show you that I’m a better man than what I’ve been showing you over time.”
The NBA’s investigation into the event had been concluded for weeks, but Silver did not announce the punishment until the end of the NBA Finals because he did not want to distract from the league’s championship series.
According to the NBA, Morant “wielded the firearm while knowing that he was being recorded… despite having made commitments to the NBA and public statements that he would not repeat the conduct for which he had previously been disciplined.”