Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant was banned by the NBA for eight games without pay on Wednesday after he streamed a video of himself holding a gun while intoxicated at a nightclub.
Morant in conversation with ESPN After his ban was announced, he said he felt “mentally good,” adding, “I feel like I deserve this punishment for my mistakes and for what I’ve done.”
Morant, who was suspended for “league-damaging conduct,” missed his sixth game on Wednesday after undergoing counseling and therapy, and while he can return on Monday when Memphis plays Dallas, Morant said he’s getting more Needing time to physically prepare for returning to the NBA.
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“When I get back out there I’ll be ready to go and push for a (championship) ring,” Morant said.
The punishment comes following a league investigation into the March 4 incident at a Denver-area club and a meeting Wednesday between Morant and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
“Ja’s behavior was irresponsible, reckless and potentially very dangerous,” Silver said. “It also has serious implications given his huge following and influence, especially among young fans who look up to him.
“He has expressed sincere remorse and remorse for his behavior. Ja also made it clear to me that he learned from this incident and that he understands that his obligations and responsibilities to the Memphis Grizzlies and the broader NBA community extend well beyond his play on the court.”
The NBA’s investigation did not find that the gun in question belonged to Morant, was brought into the nightclub by him, or was displayed by him beyond a short period of time.
Morant did not have the gun when traveling with the team or at an NBA facility, and Colorado authorities have found insufficient cause to charge him with a felony.
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Morant called his conversation with Silver “an open discussion” in which “he said things I need to get better at but more just showed his support for me.”
He apologized to the NBA, the Grizzlies and his family “for inflicting this negativity on us all with a bad decision.”
Morant did not disclose who owned the gun involved in the incident or how he came to hold it.
“I do not condone violence or any kind of violence, but I take full responsibility for my actions,” he said.
“I can see the picture I’ve painted about myself with my recent mistakes. But going forward, I’m going to show everyone who Ja really is, what I’m about, and change that narrative.”
Morant said the incident taught him – and his inner circle – how much he had to lose by acting recklessly.
“I feel like we got ourselves into this situation with our past mistakes and now it’s only right that we focus on being smarter and more responsible and blaming each other for everything,” Morant told ESPN.
“I feel like in the past we didn’t know what was at stake. And now I finally have this time alone, I realize that now. I know what I have to lose.”
“I’m trying to be free”
The 23-year-old playmaker was an NBA Most Improved Player last season and an All-Star this season and last. Morant was the 2019 NBA draft pick and the 2020 NBA Rookie of the Year.
Morant is averaging 27.1 points, 8.2 assists and 6.0 rebounds per game for the Grizzlies, who are 41-26 second in the Western Conference, four games behind pacesetter Denver.
With such success comes pressure and Morant said the incident was that he was “pretty much just trying to be free”, adding: “I used that as an escape, which I shouldn’t have done.”
After his therapy sessions in Florida, Morant said, “I’m feeling good mentally — not in many years since I really got into the league.”
“I’m in a space where I feel very comfortable. I’ve used these days to learn how to pretty much be there for myself and learn different ways to manage stress in a positive way.”
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(This article was not edited by News18 staff and is published by a syndicated news outlet feed.)
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