Memphis Grizzlies superstar Ja Morad said in an interview Wednesday that he realized just how much he was risking with his poor decisions off the field in the week and a half since the incident that resulted in his eight-game suspension from the NBA.
Hours after the Grizzlies played the Nuggets in Denver on March 3, Morant posted an Instagram Live video from an area nightclub in which he could be seen holding a handgun with his left hand. The All-Star guard soon entered a counseling program at a Florida facility while the league office investigated his handling of the firearm.
“Honestly, I feel like we put ourselves in this situation with the mistakes of the past and now it’s right to focus and lock in being smarter and more responsible, holding each other accountable for everything,” Morant said. on Wednesday during an interview. with ESPN’s Jalen Rose, referring to his inner circle. “I feel like in the past we didn’t know what was at stake. And now I finally have the time to realize everything, to have this time alone, I realize it now.
“I realize what I have to lose, and for us as a team, what we have to lose. It’s pretty much about being more responsible, smarter and staying away from all the bad decisions.”
Morad conducted the interview with Rose in New York hours after meeting with NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who called Morad’s behavior “irresponsible, reckless and potentially very dangerous” in a statement Wednesday announcing the suspension. eight games.
Morant has been away from the Grizzlies since the video was posted, and the franchise previously announced he would be out at least until Wednesday’s game against the Miami Heat. The eight-game league suspension covers the six games he has already missed, including Wednesday at Miami.
“It was good — pretty much an open conversation,” Morant said of his meeting with Silver. “Obviously, he said things I need to get better at, but more so just showing his support for me. I accepted that and also sent an apology to everybody — the league, myself, my teammates, my family for putting this negativity to all of us with a bad decision.”
Morad said the gun shown in the video “wasn’t mine,” but did not say who it belonged to or how it came into his possession.
“I am not who I am,” said Morad. “I don’t condone it or any kind of violence, but I take full responsibility for my actions. I made a bad mistake. I can see the picture I painted on myself with my recent mistakes. But in the future, I will show everyone who I really am Jah, what am I doing and I’m going to change this narrative that everyone got.”
Morad described his decision to hold an Instagram Live session while partying at Shotgun Willie’s, a strip club in Glendale, Colorado, as “pretty much just trying to be single.”
“I used it as an escape, which I shouldn’t have,” Morad said. “I feel like that’s why I’ve made a lot of bad decisions in my past, which doesn’t describe me at all, doesn’t describe Ja as a person. I’m a completely different person than what’s portrayed in the media. That’s my job now. So that’s what I took this time off, to become a better Ja, so everybody can really see who Ja really is, and you know what it’s all about.”
Morand vaguely discussed other recently reported incidents, including an altercation with a 17-year-old during a backyard basketball game, a confrontation with a security guard at a Memphis mall after his mother called him out, a confrontation at a high school Memphis in response to his younger sister being insulted during a volleyball game and a post-game confrontation between Morad’s Indiana Pacers associates that led to an NBA investigation. None of the incidents resulted in an arrest or prosecution.
“Most of the things that happened in the past, obviously, I put myself out there to even be there,” Morant said. “But all the incidents you’ve seen recently, most of them are lies. I can’t talk too much about these situations because everything is sealed. I’m really looking forward to finally being able to tell the truth. But what I can say is, like I said before, none of that is my character. I’m a big family man. I always care about my family. So, only I checked the safety of my family. Once my family is safe, I left the scene.”
Morant entered Florida’s counseling program soon after the Colorado video was released. He said he talked to therapists, learned it was okay to express his feelings and worked on techniques to handle stress, such as Reiki treatments and stress breathing.
“I feel good mentally — like it hasn’t been many years since I’ve really been in the league,” said Morant, 23, a four-year NBA veteran. “I’m in a space where I’m very comfortable. I took those days so I could learn how to be more or less there for myself and learn different ways to manage stress in a positive way.”
Although Morad is eligible to return to the Grizzlies on Monday, he will not play that night at home against the Dallas Mavericks. He said he needs to take some extra time to prepare physically for his return after not practicing during his time in Florida.
“I’ve also put my team in a difficult position by not being able to be out there on the floor for the decisions I’ve made,” Morant said. “I regret all of that. I can’t wait to get back on the court now, knowing what my punishment is. I accept it and I feel like I deserve that punishment for my mistakes and what I did. get back out there, I’ll be ready to go and ready to push for a ring”.