Grizzlies star Ja Morant given eight-game NBA ban for stripclub gun incident | Memphis Grizzlies


The NBA has handed Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant an eight-game suspension without pay after he displayed a gun during a visit to a stripclub.

Video emerged earlier this month of Morant flashing the gun during a visit to the club in suburban Denver. He has already missed five games in the fallout from the incident, and will be eligible to return for his team’s game against the Dallas Mavericks on Monday.

“Ja’s conduct was irresponsible, reckless and potentially very dangerous,” NBA 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.”

The league said it “did not conclude” that the gun belonged to Morant or that he had brought it to the nightclub. It also does not believe the 23-year-old had the gun while with the team or at any NBA facilities. The NBA’s statement added that Colorado authorities did not find sufficient evidence to charge Morant with a crime.

Morant will lose about $669,000 in salary during his suspension.

Morant’s conduct had already been investigated by the league after a separate incident in January following a game in Memphis against the Indiana Pacers. Citing unnamed sources, The Indianapolis Star and USA Today reported that multiple members of the Pacers saw a red dot pointed at them, and the Athletic reported that a team security guard believed the laser was attached to a gun.

The NBA confirmed that unnamed individuals were banned from the arena but said its investigation found no evidence that anyone was threatened with a weapon.

Morant responded to that incident by tweeting that the reports “paint this negative image on me and my fam. & banned my brother from home games for a year. unbelievable.” During the 29 January game, there was barking between Pacers players and friends of Morant seated along the sideline. A close friend of Morant’s, Davonte Pack, was escorted from the arena as Pacers bench players shouted in Pack’s direction.

Pack and Morant also are involved in a civil lawsuit brought after an incident at Morant’s home this past summer, in which a 17-year-old alleged that they assaulted him. The Shelby county district attorney’s office said in January that it was “aware of the incident, and after careful review of the facts, decided that there was not enough evidence to proceed with a case”.

Morant, the No 2 pick in the 2019 NBA draft, has become a full-fledged superstar. His five-year, $194m extension with the Grizzlies kicks in to start next season and would rise to about $230m if he makes an All-NBA team this season.

He also is a sought-after endorser. On Christmas, Nike unveiled Morant’s first signature shoe, which is set to be released in the coming weeks. And earlier this week, Powerade announced a multiyear endorsement deal with Morant.

On the same day the Powerade deal was revealed, the Washington Post published a story, based on police records it obtained, detailing how Morant and some associates “have been accused of threatening and even violent behavior”.

The questions about Morant’s conduct come at a time when gun violence again is a prominent talking point in the sports world.

Top NBA draft prospect Brandon Miller and his Alabama teammate Jaden Bradley have been linked to the scene of a killing. Neither has been charged or accused of a crime, but then-teammate Darius Miles and another man are facing capital murder charges.

And New Mexico State’s men’s basketball season was shut down in February because of a fatal shooting and allegations of locker-room hazing. Mike Peake, the New Mexico State player implicated in the shooting death of New Mexico player Brandon Travis in November, said he was acting in self-defense and has not been charged with a crime.

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