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Grizzlies walloped on and off the court as gun-incident sidelines Morant

Terry Davis

Three sentences from what now clearly is a troubled Ja Morant confirms that two-time NBA All-Star guard and face of the Memphis Grizzlies needs help.

The 55 words spread over the three sentences comprise a statement issued by Morant on Saturday afternoon. His statement followed another earlier in the day from the Grizzlies detailing that the No. 2 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft would “be away from the team for at least the next two games.”

A live post early Saturday morning on Morant’s now-deactivated Instagram account placed him in a Glendale, Colo. nightclub dancing with a gun in the left hand that he has used to confound defenders as he attacks the paint on the way to the rim.

“I take full responsibility for my actions last night,” Morant’s statement began.

“I’m sorry to my family, teammates, coaches, fans, partners, the city of Memphis and the entire Grizzlies 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.”

Wow!

For the record, Memphis’ next two games are the reason Morant and the Grizzlies are in Los Angeles. They are set to conclude a four-game road trip with a Sunday (March 5) matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers and then take on the Lakers on Tuesday (March 7).

Hanging on to the Western Conference’s No. 2. spot by a narrowing margin, the Grizzlies faced the conference’s No. 1 team – the Nuggets – in Denver on Friday night. Leading by eight at the half and tied going into the fourth quarter, Memphis got hammered from there to the end, losing 113-97.

Morant’s stat line read 27 points, 10 rebounds, four rebounds, two steals, three turnovers and two fouls in 33 minutes.

A string of troubling reports adds a sobering context to  Morant’s declaration that he is going to “get help and work on learning better methods of dealing with stress and my overall well-being.”

The Grizzlies beat the Indiana Pacers in Memphis on Jan. 29. Afterwards, NBA security fielded a report that people associated with Morant got into an altercation in the parking area for players and guest team buses. It was alleged that a laser was pointed at the Pacers’ team bus from a vehicle that Morant was riding in.

While concern was expressed about the laser being attached to a gun, NBA security concluded there was no collaboration to warrant disciplinary action.

Over the summer, Morant was associated with two other separate incidents. He is alleged to have gotten into a fight with a 17-year-old minor while playing basketball in his backyard. The Washington Post has reported that the teen alleges Morant went into his house and came back with his hand on a gun in his waistband.

No charges were filed.

In another incident, Morant was linked to a confrontation involving a mall security guard and several people. Again, no charges.

In response to the Washington Post’s reporting – and before the early Saturday morning incident posted on Morant’s Instagram – Morant’s attorney labeled the reports defamatory and irresponsible.

It is worth reiterating that the Grizzlies’ statement about Morant’s absence said “for at least the next two games.” NBA security is conducting an investigation in light of the scene on the Instagram video.

NOTES:

  • In addition to Morant not being available, the Grizzlies also will tip off against the Clippers without Brandon Clarke, who suffered a season-ending Achilles injury against the Nuggets.
  • It still is unclear when injured center Steven Adams will be cleared to play.
  • The Grizzlies return home to face the Golden State Warriors on Thursday (Mar. 9) at the FedExForum. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m. CST on TNT.

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