Ja Morant remains indefinitely suspended after a second video of the Memphis Grizzlies player brandishing a gun surfaced last month. When asked about the star guard during a pre-NBA Finals news conference on Thursday, commissioner Adam Silver said the league had found “a fair amount of additional information,” and would wait until after the Finals to discipline Morant.
“In terms of the timing, we’ve uncovered a fair amount of additional information since I was asked about the situation,” said Silver. “We probably could have brought it to a head now, but we made the decision — and I believe the players association agrees with us — that it would be unfair to these players and these teams in the middle of this series to announce the results of that investigation.”
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Silver also stated that “history of prior acts” and “the individual player’s history” were taken into account when making a decision as to how the league would discipline Morant, and the ruling would be announced “shortly after the conclusion of the Finals.”
At an NBA Cares event at a local Boys and Girls Club in Denver on Friday, the commissioner emphasized that Morant’s case was about gun safety, and not a legal or political issue. “I feel across the board, regardless of what people’s individual views are on gun rights, everyone feels firearms should be handled in a safe way, and waving them around or displaying them in a certain context is not consistent with gun safety and is not the proper message that an NBA player, particularly one at Ja’s level, should be sending to the tens of millions of followers he has,” said Silver, per the Athletic.
On May 14, after a video of Morant waving a gun while sitting in the passenger’s seat of a car went viral, the Grizzlies suspended him from all team activities later that day. Prior to the incident, Morant shared an Instagram Live video in early March, where he flashed a gun at the camera from inside a nightclub in Glendale, Colorado. Both the team and the NBA suspended the player, who then enrolled in a Florida counseling program before he was allowed to make his return to the court in later that month.
Following the second suspension, in a statement obtained by ESPN, Morant said: “I know I’ve disappointed a lot of people who have supported me. This is a journey and I recognize there is more work to do. My words may not mean much right now, but I take full responsibility for my actions. I’m committed to continuing to work on myself.”
When asked Thursday if Silver felt Morant’s initial punishment was too light given what happened after, Silver admitted the discipline didn’t have the effect the league had hoped. “But I don’t think we yet know what it will take to change his behavior. Same thing I said at the time; he seems to be a fine young man,” said the commissioner. “In terms of my dealings with him, I think he’s clearly made some mistakes, but he’s young, and I’m hoping now — once we conclude at the end of our process what the appropriate discipline is, that it’s not just about the discipline, it’s about now what we, the Players Association, his team and he and the people around him are going to do to create better circumstances going forward.”
The Nuggets defeated the Miami Heat 104-93 in the opener of the NBA Finals on Thursday. The Finals will wrap up with a potential Game 7 no later than June 18.
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