Memphis Grizzlies All-Star Ja Morant is taking some time away from the court “to get help” after he was suspended at least two games by the team for allegedly flashing a gun at a nightclub on Instagram Live early Saturday morning.
“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,” Morant, who has deactivated his Twitter and Instagram accounts, wrote in a statement to ESPN and The Athletic.
The Grizzles announced Morant “will be away from the team for at least the next two games” on Saturday, shortly after the NBA opened an investigation into the incident. Morant will miss at least the Grizzlies’ road games against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday and Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.
Morant raked up a team-high 27 points, 10 assists and two steals in the Grizzlies’ 113-97 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Friday. Later that night, the 23-year-old went on Instagram Live from a nightclub, where he can be seen rapping along with friends. While rapping shirtless, Morant briefly brandished a firearm with his left hand.
“I take full responsibility for my actions last night,” Morant said in his statement. “I’m sorry to my family teammates, coaches, fans, partners, the city of Memphis and the entire grizzlies organization for letting you down.”
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USA TODAY Sports reached out to the league, the Grizzles and Morant’s reps for comment Saturday.
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Morant is having a stellar season on the court, averaging 27.1 points, 6.0 rebounds and 8.2 assists on 46% shooting from the field. But his off-court antics have dominated the headlines and display a troubling pattern of threatening behavior from the star.
Earlier this week, allegations that Morant punched a teenager during a basketball game back in June resurfaced. According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, part of the USA TODAY Network, the teen had thrown a basketball at Morant, hitting him in the face, and approached him. Morant told officers he struck the teen in self-defense and the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office declined to press charges.
Four days prior, Morant was accused of threatening a security guard at a Memphis mall during an altercation in the parking lot. The guard filed a police report, saying one person in Morant’s group shoved him in the head. The report alleges that Morant told the security guard, “Let me find out what time he get off.” No charges were filed.
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In January, the NBA investigated a report that Morant’s acquaintances confronted members of the Indiana Pacers’ travel party after a Jan. 29 game and pointed a red laser that was believed to be attached to a gun at them. Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said the incident was also “addressed internally” by the team.
“We’re aware of the investigation of the NBA,” Jenkins told the USA TODAY Network in February. “They did a full investigation, we were fully compliant with it and I think they came out with a statement saying nothing was corroborated or found. That’s what I know and that’s all I’m going to comment on.”
Morant’s agent Jim Tanner put out a statement Wednesday, saying “any and every allegation involving a firearm has been fully investigated and could not be corroborated. This includes the NBA investigation last month, in which they found no evidence.”
Morant later commented about the situation on Twitter, revealing that one of his acquaintances was banned from the FedExForum for one year.
“Did a investigation seen they were cappin. still let a article come out to paint this negative image on me & my fam . & banned my brother from home games for a year . unbelievable,” Morant tweeted on Feb. 5 with a laughing face emoji.
Contributing: Lucas Finton and Damichael Cole; Memphis Commercial Appeal