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NBA investigating Grizzlies’ Ja Morant

Ja Morant’s high-flying basketball career came to a screeching halt after a series of decisions by the young NBA star to pull a gun on a strip club, actions that temporarily derailed his meteoric rise.

Morant is the target of the NBA’s second investigation in as many weeks with no timetable for a return to the Memphis Grizzlies. The two-time All-Star will miss his second game on Tuesday night when Memphis visits the Los Angeles Lakers.

His benching after he flashed a gun at a strip club hours after a loss to Denver comes amid a closed court case alleging he punched a teenager during a pickup game at his home last summer while drinking and partying. together with

Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said the 23-year-old Morant is a young man who needs to “grow and get better.”

Morant is the face of a young team with no players 30 or older in a city that has been at the heart of the nation’s gun problems.

In November 2021, the rapper, who had performed at the Grizzlies’ halftime show, was shot while buying cookies in Memphis. In 2010, the 34-year-old former Grizzlies center was found dead, riddled with bullets, in a marshy field southeast of the city.

Morant and the Grizzlies provided some much-needed relief in January while Memphis mourned the death of Tyr Nichols in a brutal attack by five police officers.

It all made Morant’s Instagram Live shirtless with an apparent gun next to his left cheek early Saturday morning at a Colorado club simply stunning.

The Reverend Earl Fisher of Abyssinian Baptist Church spoke at both Young Dolph’s memorial and funeral and spoke with Morant’s father after the viral video. Fisher said a broader conversation is needed about open carry laws with a specific cultural context in place.

“There are some ways to interpret what Jay has done in a way that holds him accountable, but also gives him the grace and space he needs to continue to mature as the face of the franchise,” Fisher said.

Morant beat the odds after being an overlooked, faceless college prospect playing summer basketball on an increasingly less traveled path to becoming an NBA All-Star and league MVP candidate. Morant signed a five-year, $193 million contract last summer, but missing too many games this season could cost him a $38 million bonus.

This is just the latest in a series of questionable incidents involving Morant.

A close friend of Morant’s was escorted from the arena after an altercation with Indiana Pacers players in January. Morant said that the NBA banned his friend from playing for a year.

During a basketball game at Morant’s home last summer, a 17-year-old accused him of assault. Investigators said in January there was “insufficient evidence to proceed with the case.”

Of all the studies, this video is still the most serious threat to Morant’s career and the Grizzlies’ first championship.

“I’m going to take some time to get help and work on learning better ways to deal with stress and my overall well-being,” Morant said in a statement released Saturday by his agency.

A talented young player with huge earning potential has a lot of support.

A live stream from the strip club showed Morant wearing a Ja 1 shoe logo diamond pendant that Nike gave him during the All-Star Game last month. For now, the shoe company is backing him up, saying in a statement: “We appreciate Jay’s responsibility and that he is taking the time to get the help he needs.”

Morant also addressed former coaches and teammates individually, including current LSU’s Matt McMahon.

“I love him,” said McMahon, who coached Morant at Murray State. “My coaching staff and I will always be there to support and help him through these difficult times.”

Morant’s basketball prowess is unquestioned. He was the No. 2 overall pick, the 2020 Rookie of the Year and finished seventh in MVP voting last season. He ranks ninth in the NBA with an average of 27.1 points per game and fifth with 8.2 assists per game for the second team in the Western Conference.

Now the Grizzlies coach knows he could be without his best player for a long time.

“He has a huge responsibility, not just for the team, but for the city,” Jenkins said. “But I know how he’s built with that care factor and what steps he’s taking now. It’s a step towards really being the best version of yourself.”

Apparently, Morant had the perfect support system coming into the NBA, with his parents making the trip to watch him several times during his two seasons at Murray State. They followed him to Memphis, South Carolina and now live near him.

His father, Tee, became a postseason sensation last spring when he placed bets and trash-talked Karl-Anthony Towns’ father. She talked about her son’s new Powerade commercial that debuted just last week and refused to justify her son’s actions in a Facebook post.

NBA investigators will want to know if it was indeed a gun and if Morant carried it on the team plane. The league could suspend or fine Morant, and he could also be charged in Colorado if police find him under the influence with a gun in his hand.

The Grizzlies have not said what kind of help Morant is receiving or how long he will be away from his teammates.

No one can at this point.


AP basketball writer Tim Reynolds and AP sports writer Beth Harris contributed to this report.

#NBA #investigating #Grizzlies #Morant

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