Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant (L) will miss at least the first 25 games of the 2023-24 NBA season while serving a suspension. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo
June 16 (UPI) -- The NBA suspended Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant for 25 games for conduct detrimental to the league after he was seen waving a gun while inside a car and recorded in a social media video, the league announced Friday.
"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 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."
A video posted May 13 on Instagram showed Morant holding a gun while dancing inside a car. The NBA said it determined Morant displayed the gun while leaving a social gathering in Memphis. The league office also found that Morant wielded the fire arm while "knowing that he was being recorded" and that the footage was streamed on Instagram live.
The NBA said Morant made that decision "despite having made commitments" to the league that he would not repeat similar conduct for which he was disciplined earlier this year.
Morant was suspended for eight games in March after he live streamed himself while holding a firearm while intoxicated inside a Denver nightclub.
He issued an apology Friday morning, less than an hour after he was suspended.
"I've had time to reflect and I realize how much hurt I've caused," Morant said in a statement. "I want to apologize to the NBA, the Grizzlies, my teammates and the city of Memphis. To Adam Silver, [Grizzlies owners] Zach Kleiman and Robert Pera -- who gave me the opportunity to be a professional athlete and have supported 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."
Morant's new suspension, without pay, will remain in effect through the first 25 games of the 2023-24 season. He must meet "meet certain conditions" before he returns, the league said. Under the terms of his suspension, Morant can't participate in any public league or team activities.
"For Ja, basketball needs to take a back seat at this time," Silver 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."
Morant said he plans to spend the off-season and suspension working on his "mental health and decision-making," in addition to training for the season.
Morant, 23, joined the Grizzlies as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft out of Murray State. The All-Star point guard averaged 26.2 points, 8.1 assists and 5.9 rebounds in 61 games last season.
Morant signed a five-year, $193 million contract extension in July.
"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 you," Morant said.