NBA investigating Grizzlies’ Ja Morant for appearing to flash gun in video


The NBA has opened an investigation after Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant appeared to show off a gun on a late-night social media video stream early Saturday morning.

In the hours after the Grizzlies lost to the Denver Nuggets on Friday, the 23-year-old Morant went live on Instagram. During the video stream, which was clipped and shared on other social media platforms, Morant sings along to a rap song, dances with a friend and briefly appears to hold up a gun to the camera. The Grizzlies are scheduled to play the Clippers in Los Angeles on Sunday.

“We are aware of a social media post involving Ja Morant and are investigating,” an NBA spokesman said Saturday.

Morant could face a fine or suspension for the video, which comes days after The Washington Post reported on a pair of Memphis police reports linking Morant to allegations of an assault and threatening behavior. The Grizzlies and Morant’s agent, Jim Tanner, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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In one incident that occurred at Morant’s home last summer, a teenager alleged that Morant had flashed a gun at him after a fight, though the presence of a gun was not corroborated by police. In a postgame confrontation in January, members of the Indiana Pacers alleged that Morant or one of his associates had flashed a laser beam at them. The NBA investigated that incident at the time and couldn’t conclude that a gun had been present.

Morant wasn’t charged in any of the incidents, and Tanner issued a statement Wednesday denying any use of guns by Morant in the incidents.

“Any and every allegation involving a firearm has been fully investigated and could not be corroborated,” Tanner said. “This includes the NBA investigation last month, in which they found no evidence.”

Tanner said the incident involving the teenager last summer “was purely self defense. Again, after this was fully investigated by law enforcement, they came to the decision not to charge Ja with any crime. Any of the dozens of witnesses will confirm Ja acted in self-defense and that he did not have a firearm.”

The teenager, who is also involved in a lawsuit against Morant, told police that Morant had repeatedly punched him in the head, knocking him to the ground. Morant countered that the boy had intentionally thrown a ball at his head and then stepped toward him and pulled up his pants, which he interpreted as a signal that the teenager wanted to fight.

After the altercation, the boy alleged that he was being escorted off the property when Morant re-emerged from his home with a gun in the waistband of his pants.

In transcripts of police interviews last summer, Morant confirmed he owned a handgun. Police later mentioned the teenager’s allegation that he had flashed a gun after their fight, but did not directly ask Morant whether it had occurred. Neither Morant nor his attorney subsequently denied the incident, the transcript shows. Morant’s attorneys produced a number of affidavits from witnesses present at the fight who do not mention the presence of a gun.

Morant, the second overall pick in the 2019 draft and a two-time all-star, has led the Grizzlies to a 38-24 record, good for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. The Murray State product inked a five-year, $193 million extension with the Grizzlies last summer, and he holds significant endorsement deals with Nike and Powerade.

Incidents involving guns have become rare in the modern NBA, especially after former Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas was suspended for 50 games during the 2009-10 season for bringing four handguns into the team’s locker room. Javaris Crittenton, Arenas’s teammate at the time, also served a lengthy suspension for his role in the incident with Arenas, which included brandishing his own gun, then chambering a live round in it. Stephen Jackson was suspended for seven games in 2007 after pleading guilty in response to an incident in which he fired a gun outside a strip club in a 2006 incident.

Shortly after The Post’s report was published last week, Morant appeared to celebrate a teammate’s basket in a Wednesday victory over the Houston Rockets by using his hands to simulate shooting a gun.

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