Hours after he met with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in the league office in New York, Ja Morant sat down with ESPN’s Jalen Rose to discuss his gun incident, hiatus from the Memphis Grizzlies team activities, and his reflection on the controversy and its effect to his team.
“Honestly, I feel like we put ourselves in that situation with our past mistakes, and now it’s only right that we focus in and lock in on being smarter and more responsible, holding each other accountable for everything,” Morant said Wednesday, per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. “I feel like in the past we didn’t know what was at stake. And now finally me having that time to realize everything, have that time alone, I realize that now.
“I realize what I have to lose, and for us as a group, what we have to lose. It’s pretty much just that being more responsible, more smarter and staying away from all the bad decisions.”
In early March, hours after they were outlasted by the Denver Nuggets, Morant went on to party in a strip club in Colorado. There, his career was jeopardized upon committing unethical conduct.
As he went for an Instagram live, Morant suddenly flashed a gun using his left hand while partying. This sparked public uproar within the league circle prompting the league as well as the Glendale authorities to do an investigation.
With noise and heckling swirling around him, Morant proceeded to announce his temporary break from basketball to focus on his mental health, which was eventually matched by suspension and support by the Grizzlies franchise. As such, Glendale police found no evidence of him breaking any firearm code of the Colorado law.
His meeting with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver:
“It was good – pretty much an open discussion,” Morant said of his meeting with Silver. “Obviously, he said things I need to be better at, but more of just showing his support towards me. I accepted that, and I also sent my apologies to everybody – to the league, myself, my teammates, my family for putting that negativity towards all of us with a bad decision.”
If he is the owner of the gun he flashed on his viral IG live:
“It’s not who I am,” Morant said. “I don’t condone it or any type of violence, but I take full responsibility from my actions. I made a bad mistake. 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 that everybody got.”
On why he went for an IG live in his strip club party:
“I used that as an escape, which I shouldn’t have,” Morant said. “I feel like that’s the reason I made many bad decisions in my past, which doesn’t pretty much describe me, doesn’t describe Ja as a person. I’m a totally different person than what’s been shown in the media. That’s my job now. That’s why I took that time away, to become a better Ja, so everybody really can see who Ja really is and you know what he’s about.”
On his past incidents:
“The majority of the things that’s happened in the past, obviously, I kind of put myself into by even being there,” Morant said. “But all the incidents you’ve seen recently, most of them is a lie. I can’t speak too much on those situations because all of ’em are sealed. I really can’t wait to be able to finally tell the truth. But what I can say is, like I said before, none of those are my character. I’m a big family guy. I always care for my family. So it was just me checking on my family’s safety. Once my family is safe, I left the scene.”
On his counseling sessions in Florida:
“I feel mentally good – like I haven’t been in many years since I really got dropped into the league,” said Morant. “I’m in a space where I’m very comfortable. I took those days to be able to learn how to pretty much be there for myself and learn different ways to manage stress in a positive way.”
About the Grizzlies that went 3-3 since his absence from the controversy:
“I also put my team in a tough position with me not being able to be out there on the floor for decisions I’ve made,” Morant said. “I regret all that. I can’t wait to be back out there on the floor now, knowing what my punishment is. I accept that, and I feel like I deserve that punishment for my mistakes and what I did. But when I get back out there, I’m going to be ready to go and ready to push for a ring.”
The NBA already announced its own sanction against Morant, suspending him for eight games without pay.
Morant can see himself back in the Grizzlies lineup as early as Monday against the Dallas Mavericks, but head coach Taylor Jenkins made it known that he won’t be activated yet on the said matchup.
“I think it’s going to be great to get him reintegrated with the group,” Jenkins said. “The group’s been supportive of him, he’s been supportive of the group. It’ll be good to put our arms around him and just move forward and help us all grow.”