The star Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant apologized late Tuesday after receiving days of backlash for a social media video that appeared to show him brandishing a gun in public for the second time in just over two months.
“I know I’ve disappointed a lot of people who have supported me,” Morant said in a statement. “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 accountability for my actions. I’m committed to continuing to work on myself.”
N.B.A. Commissioner Adam Silver said in a televised interview with ESPN on Tuesday that he was “shocked” by the video, which Morant’s friend reportedly streamed live on Instagram.
Why It Matters: Morant is influential as a major rising N.B.A. star.
Morant, 23, is one of the best young players in the N.B.A. He has already made two All-Star teams and one All-N.B.A. team just four years into his career. He won the Rookie of the Year Award in 2020. He is best known for high-flying dunks and has made the Grizzlies a strong contender in the Western Conference as the No. 2 seed in back-to-back seasons.
He is also part of a new generation of N.B.A. stars the league hopes will help the game transition from aging figures like LeBron James, 38, and Stephen Curry, 35. He has a new signature sneaker with Nike and had been announced as the new face of Powerade in March.
Background: He was suspended in March because of a gun video.
Morant faced criticism in March when a live video on his Instagram account showed him waving around a firearm in a Colorado nightclub. The N.B.A. suspended him for eight games. Morant also apologized then, taking “full responsibility” for his actions. Morant vowed to “work on better methods of dealing with stress” and went to a counseling facility in Florida.
Silver, the N.B.A. commissioner, called Morant’s actions “irresponsible, reckless and potentially very dangerous.”
The video was posted as other Morant-related controversies swirled.
In a lawsuit, Josh Holloway, then 17, had accused Morant of punching him during a pickup basketball game last summer. Morant told the police that it was self-defense. A mall employee had also accused Morant of assaulting him after Morant’s mother had a dispute at a shoe store. Another person accused Morant of intimidation when Morant came to his sister’s high school volleyball game because she was involved in a dispute. Morant has not been charged with a crime in any of these incidents.
Recordings of the new video went viral on Sunday. The Grizzlies quickly suspended Morant from all team activities, though the team was eliminated from the playoffs last month.
What’s Next: The N.B.A. will decide whether to discipline Morant again.
Silver told ESPN on Tuesday that the league was investigating the new video.
“The videos have been grainy and all that,” Silver said. “But I’m assuming the worst.”
As part of the N.B.A.’s collective bargaining agreement between the players’ union and team owners, players agree to “not to do anything that is materially detrimental or materially prejudicial to the best interests” of the team or the league. In suspending Morant the first time, the N.B.A. said his conduct had been detrimental to the league.