Grizzlies star guard Ja Morant said he takes “full responsibility” for an Instagram Live post in which he was brandishing a gun inside a Colorado club. It resulted in Morant being suspended for eight games by the NBA.
Morant spoke to ESPN’s Jalen Rose about the incident, with Morant suggesting he intends not to run into such issues in the future.
“It’s not who I am,” Morant said, via ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. “I don’t condone it or any type of violence, but I take full responsibility from my actions. I made a bad mistake. I can see the image that I painted over myself with my recent mistakes. But in the future, I’m going to show everybody who Ja really is, what I’m about and change this narrative that everybody got.”
The social media post came during the same week in which a Washington Post story surfaced that Morant got into a heated altercation during a pickup basketball game over the summer, resulting in a fight with a 17-year old. The teenager alleged that Morant brandished a firearm in that incident, too. Morant’s reps have denied that claim.
“The majority of the things that’s happened in the past, obviously, I kind of put myself into by even being there,” Morant told Rose. “But all the incidents you’ve seen recently, most of them is a lie. I can’t speak too much on those situations because all of ’em are sealed. I really can’t wait to be able to finally tell the truth.
“But what I can say is, like I said before, none of those are my character. I’m a big family guy. I always care for my family. So it was just me checking on my family’s safety. Once my family is safe, I left the scene.”
Morant added that entering a counseling program while being away from the Grizzlies has helped give him a new perspective on himself and his inner circle.
“Honestly, I feel like we put ourselves in that situation with our past mistakes, and now it’s only right that we focus in and lock in on being smarter and more responsible, holding each other accountable for everything,” Morant said. “I feel like in the past we didn’t know what was at stake. And now finally me having that time to realize everything, have that time alone, I realize that now.
“I realize what I have to lose, and for us as a group, what we have to lose. It’s pretty much just that being more responsible, more smarter and staying away from all the bad decisions.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver met with Morant on Wednesday, prior to the league announce Morant’s suspension.
“Ja’s conduct was irresponsible, reckless and potentially very dangerous,” 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. Ja has also made it clear to me that he has learned from this incident and that he understands his obligations and responsibility to the Memphis Grizzlies and the broader NBA community extend well beyond his play on the court.”
Morant, 23, has again been brilliant on the court and is averaging 27.1 points, 8.2 assists and 6.0 rebounds, shooting 46 percent from the field in 53 games this season.
The Grizzlies (41-27) enter Thursday tied with the Kings for second place in the Western Conference.
“I also put my team in a tough position with me not being able to be out there on the floor for decisions I’ve made,” Morant said. “I regret all that. I can’t wait to be back out there on the floor now, knowing what my punishment is. I accept that, and I feel like I deserve that punishment for my mistakes and what I did. But when I get back out there, I’m going to be ready to go and ready to push for a ring.”