NBA commissioner pokes fun at Grizzlies star Ja Morant ahead of looming firearm suspension

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has taken a hard line with Ja Morant as he considers another gun-related suspension for the Grizzlies star — but that doesn’t mean he’s unable to find humor in the situation.

Silver is preparing to announce Morant’s punishment for the second gun incident shortly after the end of the ongoing NBA Finals. He suspended Morant for eight games in March after the Grizzlies star held a gun at a suburban Denver nightclub while live-streaming himself on Instagram. Another live stream in May, this time while sharing the front seat of a car with one of his friends, saw Morant displaying another gun.

The 61-year-old commissioner poked fun at Morant on Thursday while being interviewed by Dan Patrick. The former SportsCenter host joked about actor Adam Sandler’s penchant for palming or “carrying” the basketball when he plays — a violation of the most basic game rules — and suggested a public announcement.

“I’m going to get Sandler to do a PSA for the NBA on an anti-carrying program,” Patrick said.

“It could have a double meaning, by the way,” Silver joked.

Adam Silver (right) mocked Morant on Thursday while being interviewed by Dan Patrick (left)

Yes Morant brandished a gun on IG Live in early May — his second time this year

Morant pictured in January

Yes Morant brandished a gun on IG Live in early May — his second time this year

‘Wearing the Ja Morant? Absolutely,’ said Patrick. “I’ve got it, Commissioner.”

The fact that Morant has not been charged with displaying a gun twice on social media won’t stop Silver from punishing the Grizzlies guard, the commissioner said last week.

“Waving them around, depicting them in context is inconsistent with gun safety and is not the right message an NBA player, especially one at Ja’s level, should be sending to the tens of millions of followers he has — and in the particularly when it’s an incident again, where it’s been streamed live on social media,” Silver said. “So yeah, I think given the similarity of this incident to the first, I was alarmed, I was discouraged.”

Colorado police investigated the incident in March and did not press charges. Morant has also not been charged with doing anything illegal in connection with the May incident.

But the collective bargaining agreement between the league and its players also says players agree “not to do anything materially harmful or prejudicial to the interests” of their team or the NBA. Therefore, Morant’s eight-game suspension in March was for behavior detrimental to the league, and it’s reasonable to assume that will be part of the sanctions Morant faces this time around.

“Ultimately, if we have a standard for harmful behavior, it’s based on what we see as the values ​​of this league and what our expectations of our players are in terms of the image we portray to our fans. said Silver. So it’s not a legal standard. It is a standard of a private organization.’

Silver announced before Game 1 of the Finals that the league and the National Basketball Players Association agree that the final Morant penalty should not be announced during the ongoing series.

Morant has been suspended indefinitely by the Grizzlies, and with the team clearly out until camp this fall, there is no urgency for the NBA to announce its decision.

Silver also stressed that his decision will not be a political one, even at a time when the issue of gun control only seems to widen the political divide in the country.

Since 2006, there have been 557 mass murders and at least 2,896 deaths in the United States, according to a database maintained by The Associated Press and USA Today in conjunction with Northeastern University. Those included homicides in which four or more died, not counting the attacker, within a 24-hour period. So far in 2023, the country has witnessed the highest number of recorded mass murders and deaths in a single year so far.

“This is a gun safety issue for me,” Silver said.

This is the third known NBA investigation into Morant and possible firearms involvement so far in 2023.

The former number 2 overall flashed a gun at a social media nightclub in Denver last month

Morant, 23, got in trouble after flashing a gun at a social media nightclub in Denver after a Grizzlies win against the Nuggets

Morant’s actions were under investigation after a Jan. 29 incident in Memphis that he says led to Davonte Pack — someone Morant calls “my brother” and the person who livestreamed the incident in May — being banned from Grizzlies home games for a year .

That incident followed a game against the Indiana Pacers; citing unnamed sources, The Indianapolis Star and USA Today reported that multiple members of the Pacers saw a red dot pointing at them while near the loading dock where their bus was located, and The Athletic reported that a Pacers coach guard thought the laser was attached to a rifle.

The NBA confirmed that individuals it did not identify were banned from the arena, but said its investigation into the January event found no evidence that anyone was threatened with a weapon.

Morant and Pack are also involved in a civil lawsuit filed after an incident at Morant’s home last summer in which a then 17-year-old claimed they assaulted him. Morant filed a countersuit on April 12, charging the teen with defamation, battery and assault.