‘Horrible days’ for Morant after lengthy gun ban but Grizzlies star gets ‘a new look on life’ leading into comeback
Being suspended for the first 25 games of the NBA season has proved tough for two-time All-Star Ja Morant, who says he had “some horrible days” as he worked to focus on himself away from basketball.
The Memphis Grizzlies point guard wouldn’t say on Friday if he regrets being suspended by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver for the second time in the span of four months.
“In the end, I feel like it made me better,” Morant said.
“I feel like I learned some stuff about myself that I did during that process. Very eye-opening. It kind of gave me a new look on life. How I go about my days. How I carry myself.”
Morant’s suspension ends on Tuesday, when he’ll be available to play for the Grizzlies in New Orleans on the second night of a back-to-back road swing.
Morant said he’s been counting down the days until his return and is just grateful and thankful to still be here.
The No.2 pick overall in the 2020 draft, 2021 NBA Rookie of the Year and 2022 Most Improved Player has been suspended for a combined 33 games since he first was caught flashing a gun on a social media livestream in March.
Morant first told reporters after the Los Angeles Lakers ousted Memphis from the play-offs in April he had to make better decisions, knowing off-the-court issues affected the Grizzlies’ season.
But only two weeks later, Morant was singing with friends in a vehicle when caught holding up a handgun during a livestream video.
Silver weighed the situation and announced the second suspension along with other steps for Morant to take, which included talking weekly with the NBA office and the NBA Players Association.
Morant also talked personally with Silver this week, a conversation he called good and a check-in by the commissioner on how he is doing.
The guard also knows simply talking about being a better leader for Memphis won’t be enough.
“I can’t make nobody believe me outside of my actions,” Morant said. “So me answering this question with just words probably won’t mean nothing to nobody.”
Morant has a home in Tennessee, where Republican leaders have repeatedly worked to relax state gun laws, including in 2001 when they allowed most adults 21 and older to carry handguns without first obtaining a permit. A federal judge has since cleared the way to drop that minimum age to 18.
Morant is the Grizzlies’ biggest star and one of the NBA’s top young talents. Silver has made it clear he must meet a higher standard to play in the league.
Morant said he’s counting down the days until he’s able to make his season debut Tuesday night in New Orleans.