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Ja Morant will miss the Memphis Grizzlies for at least their next two games, the team said Saturday, not long after the NBA opened an investigation into the point guard’s social media account after he broadcast himself carrying what appeared to be a gun. night club.
The video was shared by Morant on his Instagram page, and was not archived when he stopped streaming. The Grizzlies played in Denver on Friday night; they will fly to Los Angeles on Saturday where they will face the Clippers on Sunday and the Lakers on Tuesday.
Morant will miss at least two games, the Grizzlies said, without further comment.
“We are aware of a social media post involving Ja Morant and are investigating,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said earlier Saturday.
The league, if found guilty, could fine or suspend Morant. Based on a statement from the Grizzlies, Morant is the first to play again on Thursday at home against Golden State. His Instagram and Twitter accounts were disabled on Saturday, shortly after the Grizzlies announced he was out for two games.
Memphis is currently No. 2 in the Western Conference standings, led by Morant, a two-time All-Star averaging 27.1 points and 8.2 assists per game.
This is at least the second time in the past few weeks that Morant has been investigated by the league. Morant’s actions were investigated by the department after an incident on January 29 in Memphis that he said led to his friend being banned from home games there for the rest of the year.
That incident was following a game against the Indiana Pacers; citing unnamed sources, the Indianapolis Star and USA Today reported that several members of the Pacers saw a red dot pointed at them, and The Athletic reported that a Pacers guard believed the laser was attached to the gun.
The NBA confirmed that unnamed people were banned from the stadium but said that its investigation found no evidence that anyone was threatened with a weapon.
Morant responded to the incident by writing on Twitter that the reports “paint a terrible picture for me and my family.” and ban my brother from home games for the rest of the year. it’s unbelievable.” During the game on Jan. 29, there was some barking between Pacers players and Morant’s friends sitting on the sidelines. Morant’s best friend, Davonte Pack, was ejected from the court when Pacers bench players yelled at Pack.
Pack and Morant are also involved in a lawsuit brought after an incident at Morant’s home last summer, where a 17-year-old boy alleged he was beaten. The Shelby County district attorney’s office said in January it was “aware of this incident, and after a thorough review of the facts, determined there was insufficient evidence to proceed with the case.”
There is precedent for the NBA punishing a player for conduct involving firearms. In January 2010, then-Commissioner David Stern suspended Gilbert Arenas of Washington indefinitely without pay after saying the player’s conduct made him “currently unfit to stand trial.”
The suspension followed Arenas being photographed before a game in Philadelphia pointing his index finger in imitation of a gun at teammates while being investigated by local federal authorities after he admitted to bringing guns into the Wizards’ locker room.
Arenas ended up missing 50 games, the entire 2009-10 season.
Morant, the No. 2 pick in the 2019 NBA draft, has become a full-fledged star. His five-year, $194 million extension with the Grizzlies will begin next season and could rise to nearly $230 million if he makes the All-NBA team this season.
He is also a sought after supporter. Over Christmas, Nike unveiled Morant’s first signature shoe, which is expected to release in the coming weeks. And earlier this week, Powerade announced a multi-year endorsement deal with Morant.
On the same day the Powerade deal was revealed, the Washington Post published a story, based on records obtained by police, detailing how Morant and other associates “were accused of intimidation and even violent behavior,” the newspaper said.
Questions about Morant’s behavior come at a time when gun violence is once again a hot topic in sports.
Brandon Miller and Alabama teammate Jaden Bradley, according to court filings, were linked to the scene. No one has been charged or suspected of a crime, but his then-partner Darius Miles and another man face murder charges.
And New Mexico State’s men’s basketball season was shut down in February because of a fatal shooting and alleged locker room hazing. Mike Peake, the New Mexico State player involved in the shooting death of New Mexico player Brandon Travis in November, said he was acting in self-defense and has not been charged.
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