Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant continues to be a lightning rod for controversy, having been suspended from team activities by his club, pending NBA review. Morant’s suspension was announced on May 14, and it comes as a result of an Instagram Live video making the rounds on social media in which the 23-year-old appeared to be brandishing a firearm while sitting in the passenger seat of a friend’s vehicle.
In the wake of his suspension, Morant issued a statement taking responsibility for his actions but not everyone believes that his remarks on the situation were sincere. That includes former NBA star and five-time champion Ron Harper, who blasted Morant and his apology on Twitter.
Trash!!!!!!!! He don't mean one word and we shouldn't believe in this statement….
— Ron Harper (@HARPER04_5) May 17, 2023
It was a strong statement coming from a player who spent time with the controversial Dennis Rodman as a member of the Chicago Bulls during the mid/late ’90s. And it echoes the sentiments of fans and pundits alike on social media.
Of course, the incident wasn’t Morant’s first involving a firearm. The two-time All-Star and 2020 Rookie of the Year was similarly banished by the Grizzlies after a previous Instagram Live session showed him wielding a gun while “rapping along with the music” at a nightclub following Memphis’ 113-97 loss to Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets on March 3.
Consequently, Morant would miss nine consecutive games before being brought back into the fray for a March 22 bout with the Houston Rockets. And while backup point guard Tyus Jones performed admirably in Morant’s stead, averaging 16.3 points, 8.2 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game during that stretch, the latter’s actions sounded alarm bells in Memphis and around the Association.
Last summer, the Grizzlies signed Morant to a five-year contract extension worth at least $194 million.
In spite of his gun-related incidents and the Grizzlies’ playoff ouster in Round 1 at the hands of LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers, Morant had another standout campaign from an individual standpoint during the 2022-23 season. Over 61 appearances for the Grizz in the regular season, Morant averaged 26.2 points, 8.1 assists and 5.9 rebounds per game while posting an effective field-goal percentage of 50.4.