Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant has been suspended 25 games without pay during the upcoming 2023-24 season for "conduct detrimental to the league," which begin immediately, the NBA announced in a news release shared on Friday (June 16).
Morant was seen holding a firearm in an Instagram Live video shared by the account @_dtap2 on May 13, less than two months after serving an eight-game suspension for an Instagram Live video in which he appeared to be holding a firearm in a Denver nightclub during the 2022-23 regular season.
"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 the news release. "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.
"For Ja, basketball needs to take a back seat at this time. 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."
Morant issued a statement in response to his suspension, which was obtained and shared by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
"I've had time to reflect and I realize how much hurt I've caused," Morant said. "I want to apologize to the NBA, the Grizzlies, my teammates and the city of Memphis. To Adam Silver, [Grizzlies general manager] Zach Kleiman and [Grizzlies owner] 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 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.
"I'm spending the offseason and my suspension continuing to work on my own mental health and decision making. I'm also going to be training so that I'm ready to go when I can be back on the court. I know my teammates are going to hold it down and I'm so sorry I won't be out there with you at the beginning of the season.
"I hope you'll give me the chance to prove to you over time I'm a better man than what I've been showing."
Morant had previously enrolled in a Florida counseling facility during his suspension in order to learn how to better manage stress before meeting with Silver 11 days after the initial incident. The commissioner elected to suspend Morant for eight games without pay due to conduct detrimental to the league, which included six previous games that Morant had already missed and referred to the point guard's conduct as "irresponsible, reckless and potentially very dangerous."
Morant, a former No. 2 overall pick, was selected to the NBA All-Star Game during each of the past two seasons, as well as having previously won the 2022 NBA Most Improved Player and 2020 NBA Rookie of the Year awards. The 23-year-old averaged 26.2 points, 8.1 assists and 5.9 rebounds during the 2022-23 NBA season.