On Friday, the NBA announced its decision, saying Morant will serve his suspension without pay when the 2023-24 season kicks off in the fall. According to the league’s statement, the All-Star guard posed with a gun in a car during a May 13 livestream.
“Morant intentionally and prominently displayed a gun while in a car with several other individuals as they were leaving a social gathering in Memphis,” the NBA stated. “Morant wielded the firearm while knowing that he was being recorded and that the recording was being live streamed on Instagram Live.”
Two months earlier, Morant was suspended for eight games for waving a gun in a Denver club while streaming on Instagram. The 23-year-old apologized after the first incident but still repeated his conduct.
“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 stated. “The potential for other young people to emulate Ja’s conduct is particularly concerning. Under these circumstances, we believe a suspension of 25 games is appropriate and makes clear that engaging in reckless and irresponsible behavior with guns will not be tolerated.”
The NBA said Morant will be “required to meet certain conditions before he returns to play.”
“For Ja, basketball needs to take a back seat at this time,” the league said. “Prior to his return to play, he will be required to formulate and fulfill a program with the league that directly addresses the circumstances that led him to repeat this destructive behavior.”
While suspended, Morant will not be allowed to participate in any league or team activities. The young star issued another apology after the latest suspension.
“I want to apologize to the NBA, the Grizzlies, my teammates and the city of Memphis,” he said in a statement. “To Adam Silver, Zach Kleiman and Robert Pera — who gave me the opportunity to be a professional athlete and have supported me — I’m sorry for the harm I’ve done. To the kids who look up to me, I’m sorry for failing you as a role model. I promise I’m going to be better. To all of my sponsors, I’m going to be a better representation of our brands. And to all of my fans, I’m going to make it up to you, I promise.”
According to ESPN, the National Basketball Players Association released a statement on Friday to speak out against the length of Morant’s suspension.
“Ja has expressed his remorse and accepted responsibility for his actions, and we support him unequivocally as he does whatever is necessary to represent himself, our players and our league in the best possible light,” NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio said in a statement. “As to the discipline imposed … we believe it is excessive and inappropriate for a number of reasons, including the facts involved in this particular incident, and that it is not fair and consistent with past discipline in our league.”
The NBPA said it plans to explore “all options and next steps” with the young guard.