Ja Morant says gun in club incident wasn't his, details therapy in 1st interview since suspension
Ja Morant hasn't seen an NBA court since he brandished a gun at a club on Instagram Live and he will be out for at least three more games after the NBA hit him with an eight-game suspension.
The Memphis Grizzlies All-Star has spent that time in a form of exile, seeking counseling after a string of troubling incidents over the last year. Morant reportedly exited counseling on Wednesday, and it wasn't long until he had an interview with ESPN's Jalen Rose airing to explain what's been happing.
In his first public appearance since leaving Memphis, Morant said the gun at the center of the club incident in Denver did not belong to him, but once again said he took "full responsibility" for his actions:
"The gun wasn't mine. It's not who I am, I don't condone any type of violence, but I take full responsibility for my actions. I made a bad mistake and I can see the image that I painted over myself with my recent mistakes, but in the future, I'm going to show everybody who Ja really is, what I'm about and change this narrative."
Morant also broke down the types of therapy he's been going through, something the Grizzlies and NBA have hoped can prevent future incidents:
"Me, personally, I feel mentally good that I haven't been in many years. I'm in a space where I'm very comfortable. I was constantly talking to therapists. I've been doing Reiki treatment. I've been doing anxiety breathing, different stuff to help me manage that and release all that stuff from my body.
"I made a terrible mistake being inside a club and went Live. I put myself in a bad position, and also my daughter. There's times where she'll even tell me if she's had a bad day. I felt like if she can tell me that, then I can be able to go and talk to somebody as well.
As things currently stand, Morant is eligible to return on Monday against the Dallas Mavericks. He was initially suspended two games by the Grizzlies, who later said he would miss at least the next four games. The NBA opted to count Morant's five games missed so far in his suspension, which is without pay.
How Ja Morant got here
The club incident was only one of at least four incidents involving Morant over the last year or so. The first sign of trouble came in February, when a January incident was reported involving his entourage and Indiana Pacers staffers. The run-in reportedly ended with the staffers claiming someone in Morant's SUV had aimed a red laser, believed by a security guard to be a gun, at them after a Grizzlies game.
One month later, Morant was reported to have allegedly assaulted a teenager and threatened him with a gun during a pick-up game at his house last summer and, in a separate incident, allegedly threatened the head of security at a Memphis mall.
No criminal charges have been filed against Morant for any of the incidents, but they've chipped away at the reputation of a player considered to be a future face of the NBA. The Grizzlies have already gone all-in on Morant as their franchise player, signing him to a five-year, $231 million contract last offseason.
The good news for Morant is this suspension provides a clear opportunity for a turning point in his career, and he has so far said exactly what everyone wants to hear. Whether or not that leads to a change in his actions will be up to Morant.