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Ja Morant’s firearm incidents prompt concern around influence of athletes’ actions

Photo used with permission from Justin Ford/Getty Images
Ja Morant dribbles the ball up the court for the Memphis Grizzlies April 27. He had been suspended indefinitely after being caught with a firearm while travelling with the team, his second suspension after a similar offense in March.

NBA player Temetrius Jamel Morant, also known as Ja Morant, flashed a firearm in a video posted on social media May 13. A similar violation of NBA regulations was captured March 4 when Morant flashed a firearm on his own Instagram livestream.

The NBA and Colorado police decided to investigate the incident after Morant was also spotted at a nightclub in Denver after playing for the Memphis Grizzlies, according to Sky Sports. Later that evening, Morant’s agency announced on Twitter that he would be stepping away from the team for a few games to reevaluate his mental state.

I have never supported casual gun use, however, when Morant made the mistake the first time, I was willing to forget the event at the end of his suspension. After all, he is under a lot of pressure as a professional basketball player. But, when he did it a second time, especially after claiming he had truly considered his actions, I felt extremely uncomfortable. Is this a player I want to look up to? 

After further investigation, the Colorado police decided there was not enough evidence to decipher if he had brought the firearm onto the team’s property or not, and he was therefore cleared by the police. However, the Grizzlies announced on Twitter March 8 that Morant would step away from the team for the following four games. While he didn’t break the law, Morant certainly was not representing what the NBA expects of their players. The league suspended him for eight games during which Morant entered a counseling program, returning to the team March 23. 

The NBA should set clear standards for the conduct they expect of their players.

The Grizzlies and their fans welcomed Morant back on the court, and for 16 games, he did not disappoint with his stellar performance. However, Morant then repeated the same offense.

Thus, the counseling program and self-evaluation were clearly ineffective. The fact that Morant’s repetitive violations of league policies within a matter of weeks demonstrate that the NBA needs to take a harsher stance on this issue, and give Morant a more serious punishment to emphasize that this type of behavior is not tolerated. 

While the idolization of athletes puts a great amount of pressure on players, it is vital that they set a good example considering the young audience of the NBA that looks up to these players. If athletes are casually flinging guns around on Instagram videos, kids who support their team and idolize them as a player are more likely to mimic their actions.

The NBA is now considering its options. Morant has proven that a suspension was not a sufficient consequence, and it is up to the NBA to determine what punishment to deliver for the rest of the season. 

At the bare minimum, I think the NBA should re-suspend him, charge a fine, and require that he receive regular counseling for the remainder of his time playing professional sports. The NBA should set clear standards for the conduct they expect of their players, and also advertise this to their fans.

Ja Morant’s actions serve as a reminder that we must think carefully about the influence of star athletes and their responsibilities as role models for younger fans. 

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About the Contributor
Colton Stenson, Media Team
Colton Stenson ('26) is a member of the Media Team for The Standard in Advanced Journalism.

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