The N.B.A. suspended Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant for eight games without pay for conduct detrimental to the league after he appeared in an Instagram live video early on the morning of March 4 “holding a firearm in an intoxicated state” while visiting a nightclub near Denver, according to a league statement.
Morant, 23, has not played since March 3, when the Grizzlies lost to the Denver Nuggets, and the five games he has missed will count toward the suspension. He will be eligible to play again in the Grizzlies’ game on Monday against the Dallas Mavericks.
“Ja’s conduct was irresponsible, reckless and potentially very dangerous,” N.B.A. Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “It also has serious consequences given his enormous following and influence, particularly among young fans who look up to him. He has expressed sincere contrition and remorse for his behavior.”
Silver and Morant met at the N.B.A.’s office in New York on Wednesday. According to the league’s statement, the league’s head of basketball operations, Joe Dumars, who oversees player punishment, and Tamika Tremaglio, the executive director of the N.B.A. players’ union, also attended the meeting.
The league said that it had investigated the video and “did not conclude” that Morant owned the gun or that he brought it to the club. The N.B.A. also said in its statement that it did not determine that Morant had traveled with the gun or taken it to an N.B.A. facility. The league’s collective bargaining agreement prohibits players from having firearms and deadly weapons at N.B.A. facilities or when traveling on league business. Players who violate that policy can be suspended indefinitely by the commissioner and fined up to $50,000.
Morant had been away from the Grizzlies since March 4, though the Grizzlies did not say whether he had been suspended. By that afternoon, his Twitter and Instagram accounts had been deactivated.
That same day, the agency that represents Morant, Tandem, released a statement from Morant in which he said he took “full responsibility for my actions last night.”
“I’m sorry to my family, teammates, coaches, fans, partners, the city of Memphis and the entire Grizzlies organization for letting you down,” Morant said. “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.”
The incident at the nightclub happened three days after The Washington Post reported that Morant had been involved in two incidents last summer in which police were called. In one, Morant was accused of threatening a mall security guard. In the other, he was accused of punching a teenage boy during a pickup game at his home. Morant said he was acting in self-defense.
Morant is one of the league’s brightest stars, known for his acrobatic dunks and brash trash talk. He has led the Grizzlies to playoff berths in the past two seasons after a three-year drought for the franchise. He won the league’s Rookie of the Year Award in 2020 and is a two-time All-Star.
This season, Morant has averaged 27.1 points, 8.2 assists and 6.0 rebounds per game, leading the Grizzlies to the second-best record in the Western Conference. In his absence, Memphis has held on to the No. 2 seed in the West, having gone 3-2 without Morant.
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