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Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant is suspended for 25 games for conduct detrimental to the league, the NBA announced on Friday.
The Grizzlies suspended Morant from all team activities on May 14 following a social media circulating video showing Morant brandishing a firearm while sitting on a passenger seat in a vehicle. Following a similar incident in March, the NBA suspended Morant for eight games when he was seen on Instagram Live holding up a handgun while in a Colorado night club. The league officials waited until the NBA Finals series was over to get out with the decision.
“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. For Ja, basketball needs to take a back seat at this time,” Silver said in the statement. “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.”
Ja Morant’s Apology
Morant, who has been involved in numerous incidents in the last season, came out with an apology. He did the same previously after the Colorado incident, but his behavior has not changed. He will have more time to cope with the issues during the offseason and hopefully will be a real role model in near future.
“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, 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.”
“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 you.”
How Much Will the Suspension Cost Morant
Morant’s five-year, $194 million max contract is set to begin in the upcoming season. It could have escalated to a supermax if he had made All-NBA team this season, and the main reason he failed to do so, were the off-court incidents. Failing to make an All-NBA selection will cost him around $39 million in future earnings.
Morant will not be eligible to participate in any public league or team activities, including preseason games, during the suspension. He was set to make $33.5 million this season, and due to the suspension, he will lose around $300,000 per game or a total of approximately $7.5 million.
NBPA’s Reaction to Morant’s Suspension
The National Basketball Players Association immediately came out with a statement expressing its displeasure with the length of Morant’s suspension and the arbitrary nature of the conditions for his return.
“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.”
Where Does Morant’s Suspension Stand in NBA History
Morant’s 25-game suspension is the eighth longest in NBA history.
Metta Sandiford-Artest, formerly known as Metta World Peace and Ron Artest, was suspended for 86 games following the infamous Malice at the Palace incident. His Indiana Pacers teammate Stephen Jackson served a 30-game suspension for his involvement in the same incident.
Latrell Sprewell was suspended for 68 games back in 1997 for chocking the Golden State Warriors head coach P.J Carlesimo during practice.
Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton were suspended for 50 and 38 games for bringing in guns to the Washington Wizards facilities back in 2010.
Earlier this year, the Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges was suspended for 30 games for domestic violence.
And finally, Kermit Washington was suspended for 26 games after punching Rudy Tomjanovich in the face during a fight in a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets in 1977.
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