By Nadia Liu
Memphis Grizzlies superstar Ja Morant will miss at least six games after violating NBA rules by posting a video in which he appeared to display a handgun in a strip club. Although the Glendale Police Department dropped all charges against the player, the Grizzlies announced on Mar. 8 that Morant will be missing the next four games, on top of the two he has already missed.
On the morning of Mar. 4, Morant posted a live video to Instagram of him holding a handgun at Shotgun Willie’s, a strip club in Glendale, Colorado. Taken at 5:19 AM — just hours after Memphis’ 113-97 loss to the Denver Nuggets — the video showed the All-Star guard rapping along with music playing while holding up the gun with his left hand. Morant deactivated his Instagram and Twitter accounts that afternoon.
On Mar. 6, the Glendale Police Department announced that they were investigating whether Morant had broken any gun laws. Colorado is an open-carry state, however exceptions to the law include carrying a firearm on federal property and possessing a firearm while under the influence of alcohol. It is unclear in Morant’s livestream whether or not he was intoxicated, but others around him appeared to be drinking. The police eventually dropped the charges due to lack of sufficient evidence. In a news release, the police department stated, “In this case, it should be noted that on the night in question the GPD did not receive any calls for service at the nightclub regarding a weapon of any type. Subsequently, no disturbances were reported, and no citizens or patrons of the club came forward to make a complaint. The investigation also concluded that no one was threatened or menaced with the firearm and in fact no firearm was ever located.” Although the Memphis player doesn’t face any legal charges, he did violate NBA rules that prohibit a player from possessing a firearm while on team property or traveling on team business.
In a statement released the day after Morant’s livestream, the Grizzlies point guard wrote that he takes “full responsibility for my actions last night.” The statement read, “I’m sorry to my family, teammates, coaches, fans, partners, the city of Memphis and the entire organization for letting you down. I’m going to take some time away to get help and work on learning better methods of dealing with stress and my overall well-being.” Nike, who is collaborating with Morant on a signature shoe line, released a statement in support of the Memphis star: “We appreciate Ja’s accountability and that he is taking the time to get the help he needs. We support his prioritization of his well-being.” Memphis Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins explained in a press conference that the team’s focus was on supporting Morant through a hard time while holding him accountable: “There’s a supportive element for someone that’s got to get better and needs some help. But then there’s also accountability to the team that we’ve got to stand for. It’s a learning opportunity, and hopefully we can be better from it.”
(Sources: ESPN, NY Times, Washington Post)