Ja Morant to take off at least two games to get help after displaying apparent gun in video
Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant will not play in at least the next two games after his Instagram Live video, in which he displayed what appeared to be a gun while at a nightclub early Saturday morning, prompted an investigation from the NBA.
The Grizzlies announced Saturday afternoon that Morant “will be away from the team for at least the next two games,” meaning he will not play Sunday against the LA Clippers or Tuesday against the Los Angeles Lakers.
“We are aware of a social media post involving Ja Morant and are investigating,” NBA spokesperson Mike Bass said in a statement earlier Saturday.
Morant began his Instagram Live session at 5:19 a.m. ET, hours after the Grizzlies’ 113-97 loss to the Denver Nuggets. The All-Star guard, who was shirtless and rapping along with the music, could be seen holding up a handgun with his left hand. Morant deactivated both his Instagram and Twitter accounts on Saturday afternoon.
In a statement, Morant said he takes “full responsibility for my actions last night.”
“I’m sorry to my family, teammates, coaches, fans, partners, the city of Memphis and the entire organization for letting you down,” the statement read. “I’m going to take some time away to get help and work on learning better methods of dealing with stress and my overall well-being.”
Nike, who has a signature shoe line with Morant, backed the Grizzlies star in a statement released Saturday evening.
“We appreciate Ja’s accountability and that he is taking the time to get the help he needs,” the statement read. “We support his prioritization of his well-being.”
Morant’s video came in the wake of a Washington Post story published Wednesday detailing two incidents involving Morant this summer that resulted in police reports but no arrests. In the second incident, according to police interviews obtained by The Washington Post, a 17-year-old boy alleged Morant emerged from his house with a gun in his waistband and his hand on the weapon after a fight between the boy and Morant during a pickup basketball game in the Grizzlies point guard’s backyard. The other incident was a confrontation with a mall security guard in a parking lot.
“Any and every allegation involving a firearm has been fully investigated and could not be corroborated,” Jim Tanner, Morant’s agent, said in a statement in response to the Post’s story. “This includes the NBA investigation last month, in which they found no evidence.”
That investigation stemmed from a postgame confrontation between acquaintances of Morant and the Indiana Pacers’ traveling party after the Grizzlies’ Jan. 29 home win. After that incident, which occurred by the Indiana team bus in the loading area of FedExForum and was first reported by The Athletic, NBA security and investigators interviewed numerous eyewitnesses and reviewed video surveillance following allegations made by the Pacers organization that a red laser was pointed at members of the Pacers from a sports utility vehicle in which Morant was a passenger.
“While we substantiated that a postgame situation arose that was confrontational, based on interviews and other evidence gathered, we could not corroborate that any individual threatened others with a weapon,” Bass told The Athletic. “Certain individuals involved in the postgame situation and a related matter during the game that night have been subsequently banned from attending games in the arena. If additional information becomes available related to the postgame situation, the league office will conduct a further review.”
Davonte Pack, one of Morant’s longtime friends, was banned from the arena after the incident. Pack, who was seated courtside next to Morant’s father, Tee, had stepped onto the court during a verbal altercation with Pacers players in the third quarter of the game and was escorted out of the seating area by arena security.
The Grizzlies received more bad news on Saturday, with Brandon Clarke sidelined for the rest of the year due to an Achilles tear he suffered in Friday’s loss. Memphis will also be without starting forward Dillon Brooks for Sunday’s game against the Clippers as he received his 16th technical foul of the season on Friday, resulting in an automatic one-game suspension.