Ja Morant’s 8-game suspension shows NBA doesn’t want him to fail, but he has to want that, too

One day, Ja Morant will emerge from the tunnel with his teammates on his sides as he enters the NBA arena for the first time in his new reality.

He will address the media, answering repeated questions about his actions and habits that led to his eight-game suspension and appeal in Florida – perhaps statements that will seem rehearsed and very unlike Jah.

It will be the first day of adulthood in the NBA, the sparkle of innocence will fade. The days of giving a damn won’t be as easy once you dance with the devil, which is the NBA’s mortality, and he’ll probably be better for him, not to harden him.

It’s one thing to be on the brink of danger, especially with an audience. Most NBA stars are button-up and family-friendly, so Morant took a different route. But until now, he’s been seen as harmless, energetic, and reflective of the culture the NBA is now adopting—for better or for worse.

This doubt has now been temporarily removed.

The NBA doesn’t want Morant to fail. It wasn’t profitable for the League to blame him for what “could” happen – even the justice system didn’t get that far. In addition, he knows how important he is for the future and his present.

The Gilbert Arenas comparison is certainly obscene, even if it’s so bad it will rot your teeth. But the league concluded that he did not bring weapons into team territory — a huge demarcation of the Arenas incident almost 15 years ago. It cost Arenas 50 games from then-commissioner David Stern, who could have suspended him at will.

Sources told Sportzshala Sports that Stephen Jackson is likely a little closer to Morant’s precedent after the 2006 incident outside a strip club in Indianapolis. Jackson fired a shot into the air in an attempt to break up the fight and was subsequently hit by a car – the league decided his role was worth a five-game ban at the start of the 2007-08 season, months after the trial. went its own way.

Raymond Felton, then a Knicks player, pleaded guilty to a felony in 2014 before heading to Dallas. His suspension was four games.

Unlike those examples, Morant was not accused of anything, but his pattern of behavior gravitated toward dangerous places. So Commissioner Adam Silver’s statement was as blunt as anything he’s done in recent years.

“Ja’s behavior was irresponsible, reckless and potentially very dangerous,” Silver said. “It also has major implications given his huge following and influence, especially among the younger fans who look up to him. He expressed sincere remorse and remorse for his behavior. Jah also made it clear to me that he learned from this incident and that he understands his obligations and responsibilities to the Memphis Grizzlies and the wider NBA community that go well beyond his game on the court.”

Morant, at the tender age of 23, was known as a mentor to the younger players in his orbit, most notably Detroit rookie Jaden Ivey. Ivy’s mother, Niele, was an assistant coach with the Grizzlies before becoming head coach of the Notre Dame women’s team, and that’s where their relationship began.

And if Morant seems too young to be a mentor, think of a high school student who takes a freshman under his wing – an equal.

Morant will be repelled by every oldie he comes across for a decent amount of time, be it a current player, former player, or whatever.

They will tell him that the whole world is before him, even after this first public strike, and he will be able to recover from it. They will also tell him that the information that has been released makes him even more of a target for provocation, especially in Memphis, unfortunately.

He will not be put in a cocoon, although, probably, many would like to do this. There aren’t a lot of American-born stars in the under-25 category, and if you don’t think that matters, take a look at MLB’s declining popularity among the youth, simply because many of its stars are not American.

The league will likely wait before putting him back in his place. On the other hand, America loves nothing but a story of redemption and resignation, especially from someone whose personality is defiant.

Memphis Grizzlies defenseman Ja Morant, 12, plays in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday, February 15, 2023, in Memphis, Tennessee.  (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
Memphis Grizzlies defenseman Ja Morant was suspended eight games on Wednesday for “league-damaging behavior” after flashing a gun live on Instagram. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

Who knows if Morant will formally apologize to those who tried to distract him from looking beyond, the people who argued with him over his behavior – those in the Grizzlies organization and some close to him, sources told Sportzshala Sports. . . His behavior may have been aimless, but over time he was noticed and he probably went too far to listen.

That is, until he showed the gun on Instagram Live.

It wasn’t some investigation that unearthed this particular instance – he posted it for all to see. In an interview with ESPN’s Jalen Rose, he said it was not his gun — thus making the decision even more puzzling at the moment.

Either he was too careless, careless, or indifferent to what was around him to care about him, but this makeshift roadblock seemed necessary.

A trip to Florida for a “consultation” proved more necessary, even if the wording was intentionally vague. Even if he doesn’t deserve the presumption of doubt at this level of confidentiality, one might wonder if a week or two of consultations will fix what’s wrong with him.

If it’s decision making, getting into the adult world of the NBA will certainly enhance the work—or reveal its absence.

If this is something more, something more dangerous, then the work should be twice as intense and even more transparent. The slightest misstep will expose a crowd that Morant doesn’t want to hear about, and more importantly, a segment that the NBA would like to keep at bay.

The NBA doesn’t want Morant to fail. Jah is also better not to let Jah fail.


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