Star point guard Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies will miss the first 25 games of the 2023–24 season, the NBA formally confirmed on Friday morning.

In a recent viral video, Morant could be seen clutching what seemed to be a pistol.

The two-time NBA All-Star received an eight-game suspension for a similar incident during the regular season.

“The potential for other young people to emulate Ja’s conduct is particularly concerning. Under these circumstances, we believe a suspension of 25 games is appropriate and makes clear that engaging in reckless and irresponsible behavior with guns will not be tolerated. For Ja, basketball needs to take a back seat at this time.”

The National Basketball Players Association voiced its disappointment with Morant’s suspension’s duration and the capriciousness of the requirements for his reinstatement on Friday.

In a statement, NBPA executive director Tamika Tremaglio stated, “Ja has expressed his regret and accepted responsibility for his actions, and we support him unequivocally as he does whatever is necessary to represent himself, our players, and our league in the best possible light.” As for the punishment given, “We believe it is excessive and inappropriate for a number of reasons, including the facts surrounding this specific incident, and that it is not fair and consistent with past punishment in our league.”

The NBPA promised to discuss “all options and next steps” with Morant.

Before going to New York City to meet with Silver at the commissioner’s office, Morant enrolled in a Florida counselling facility following the March event in order to acquire better stress management techniques, he subsequently said.

Because Morant’s actions were damaging to the league, Silver decided to suspend him for eight games without pay, which included the six games he had previously missed. In a scathing statement, Silver referred to Morant’s actions as “irresponsible, reckless, and potentially very dangerous.”

In his press conference prior to Game 1 of the NBA Finals, Silver stated, “I think he understood that it wasn’t about his words.” “It was going to be about his behaviour in the future.

“I suppose looking back, I don’t know. Would it have mattered if the punishment had been for 12 games as opposed to 8 games? I am aware that at the time it looked proper since it was based on tradition, he was represented, and we wanted to be fair to the league. I can only say that. Maybe not, although I guess you could argue so by definition since we’ve all watched the video and it seems like he did it again.

The Instagram Live video that surfaced in May was posted by Davonte Pack, who is close friends with Morant and was engaged in several of the off-court events that led to the league office opening an inquiry.

After an inquiry into a post-game altercation with the Indiana Pacers’ travelling party on Jan. 29, when a red laser was allegedly aimed out of an SUV in which Morant was travelling, Pack was prohibited from going to Grizzlies home games for a year.

The “history of prior acts,” the “individual player’s history,” and the “serious of the conduct” were among the considerations Silver listed during his June 1 press conference during the Finals.

Silver said that the fact that Morant was not charged with a crime would not stop the league from imposing additional sanctions.

In a statement released on Friday, the Grizzlies expressed their appreciation for the NBA’s decision to punish Morant.

The Grizzlies stated that “our standards as a league and team are clear and we expect that all team personnel will adhere to them.”

Morant has missed 50 games over the last two seasons, not counting the postseason. The Grizzlies, on the other hand, have performed admirably without their star player, going 33-17 in those games, including a 20-5 mark during the regular season of 2021–22, which, according to ESPN Stats & Information, is tied for the best win percentage by a team in NBA history in games played without a player averaging 25 points or more.

Including playoff games, Memphis finished 11-10 this past season when Morant wasn’t available.

The first season of Morant’s five-year, $194 million contract is scheduled to start in 2019. If he had been named All-NBA this season, which he was not, it may have reached a supermax, costing him roughly $39 million in potential future earnings.

Although the sports drink firm dropped an advertisement starring him following the March video, it is not presently airing, he has endorsement arrangements with Nike and Powerade.

In a statement released on Friday, Nike said: “We are happy that Ja is taking accountability and prioritising his well-being.” “We will continue to support him both on and off the court.”

This season, Morant scored 26.2 points per game on average to help Memphis earn the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference Playoffs, but they fell to the Los Angeles Lakers in six games.

“I’ve had time to reflect and I realise how much hurt I’ve caused,” said Morant in his statement. To the NBA, the Grizzlies, my teammates, and the people of Memphis, I sincerely apologise. I apologise for the hurt I’ve caused to Adam Silver, Zach Kleiman, and Robert Pera, who offered me the chance to become a professional athlete and have supported me. I apologise for failing to be a good role model for the children who look up to me. I’m going to improve, I swear. I’m going to be a better ambassador for all of my sponsors’ companies. And I’m going to make it up to all of my admirers, I swear.

I’m continuing to work on my own mental health and decision-making throughout the off-season and my ban. In order to be prepared when I can return to the court, I’ll also be training. I’m sad I won’t be out there with you for the start of the season, but I know my teammates will keep it together.

I sincerely hope you’ll give me the chance to gradually show you that I’m a better man than I’ve been portraying myself to be.

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