Tim McMahonESPN Writer4 minute read
Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant will not play at least the next two games after his Instagram Live video, in which he showed what appeared to be a gun while at a nightclub early Saturday morning sparked an NBA investigation.
The Grizzlies announced Saturday afternoon that Morant “will be out of the team for at least the next two games,” meaning he won’t play Sunday against the LA Clippers or Tuesday against the Los Angeles Lakers.
“We are aware of a social media post involving Ja Morant and are investigating,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement earlier Saturday.
Morant began his Instagram Live session at 5:19 a.m. ET, hours after the Grizzlies’ 113-97 loss to the Denver Nuggets. The All-Star guard, who was shirtless and rapped along to the music, could be seen holding a handgun with his left hand. Morant deactivated her Instagram and Twitter accounts on Saturday afternoon.
In a statement, Morant said he took “full responsibility for my actions last night.”
“I’m sorry to my family, my teammates, my coaches, my fans, my partners, the city of Memphis and the entire organization for letting you down,” the statement read. “I’m going to take some time to get some help and work on learning better ways to manage stress and my overall well-being.”
Nike, which has a signature shoe line with Morant, backed the Grizzlies star in a statement on Saturday night.
“We appreciate Ja’s responsibility and the fact that he is taking the time to get the help he needs,” the statement said. “We support his prioritization of his well-being.”
Morant’s video follows a Washington Post article published Wednesday detailing two incidents involving Morant this summer that resulted in police reports but no arrests. In the second incident, according to police interviews obtained by The Washington Post, a 17-year-old boy alleged that Morant came out of his house with a gun in his belt and his hand on the gun after a fight between the boy and Morant during a pick up a basketball game in the Grizzlies point guard’s backyard. The other incident was a confrontation with a mall security guard in a parking lot.
“Any allegation involving a firearm has been thoroughly investigated and could not be substantiated,” Jim Tanner, Morant’s agent, said in a statement responding to the Post article. . “That includes the NBA’s investigation last month, in which they found no evidence.”
That investigation stemmed from a postgame confrontation between acquaintances of Morant and the traveling Indiana Pacers following the Grizzlies’ Jan. 29 home win. After the incident, which occurred by the Indiana team bus in the FedExForum loading area and was first reported by The Athletic, NBA security and investigators interviewed de numerous eyewitnesses and reviewed CCTV following allegations made by the Pacers organization that a red laser was pointed at members of the Pacers from an SUV in which Morant was a passenger.
“Although we have proven that a post-match situation was confrontational, based on interviews and other evidence collected, we could not corroborate that an individual threatened others with a weapon” , Bass told The Athletic. “Certain individuals involved in the post-match situation and related matter during the match that night were subsequently banned from attending matches in the arena. Should further information become available regarding the situation of post-match, the league office will conduct a further review.”
Davonte Pack, one of Morant’s longtime friends, was banned from the arena after the incident. Pack, who was seated next to Morant’s father, Tee, entered the field during a verbal altercation with Pacers players in the third quarter of the game and was escorted out of the seating area by arena security .
The Grizzlies received more bad news on Saturday, with Brandon Clarke sidelined for the rest of the year with a torn Achilles he suffered in Friday’s loss. Memphis will also be without starting forward Dillon Brooks for Sunday’s game against the Clippers as he received his 16th technical foul of the season on Friday, resulting in an automatic one-game suspension.