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Nike Says It Will Continue to Support Ja Morant After 25-Game Suspension

The NBA has issued a 25-game suspension for Ja Morant to begin the 2023-2024 season. The punishment comes after the Memphis Grizzlies superstar was spotted in May brandishing a gun on Instagram Live for the second time this year. A day after the incident, the Grizzlies announced Morant would be suspended from all team activities while the league investigates the incident.

Morant addressed the suspension in a statement in which he said he'll spend the offseason working on his mental health and decision making in addition to training for his return to the court. "I've had time to reflect, and I realize how much heart I've caused," Morant said. "I want to apologize to the NBA, the Grizzlies, my teammates, and the city of Memphis. ...To the kids who look up to me, I'm sorry for failing as a role model. I promise I'm going to be better. To all my sponsors, I'm going to be a better representation of our brands. ...I hope you'll give me the chance to prove to you over time I'm a better man than what I've been showing you."

Nike's statement regarding Ja Morant's current suspension
Nike's statement regarding Ja Morant's current suspension

“We are pleased that Ja is taking accountability and prioritizing his well-being," Nike said in a statement given to Sole Retriever. "We will continue to support him on and off the court.” In the time since the second incident, Nike did go forward with the release of the Ja 1 "Hunger."

As part of the suspension, Morant will be required to meet certain conditions set by the NBA before he can return to the Grizzlies in any capacity, according to The Athletic.

Morant also served an eight-game suspension in March after he again held up a gun during an Instagram Live video shot inside a Colorado strip club. The Grizzlies star spent a short time in a counseling facility in Florida in order to find better ways to cope with stress and said in a statement at the time, “I take full responsibility for my actions.”

In addition to the two displays of guns on Instagram, Morant has consistently put himself in compromising positions over the past year. A teenager accused Morant of beating him up during a pickup game at the star’s home before returning with a gun in his waistband. Morant was involved in another confrontation at a high school volleyball game, and a Finish Line employee has also accused Morant of threatening him.

The NBA previously investigated an incident in which a red laser was shone into the Indiana Pacers bus following a postgame altercation between Morant’s associates and members of the Pacers’ traveling party. The Pacers believed the laser was attached to a gun, but the league could not confirm the source.

In response to the first suspension, Nike said in a statement: “We appreciate Ja’s accountability and that he is taking the time to get the help he needs. We support the prioritization of his well-being.” The release of Morant’s first signature sneaker, the Nike Ja 1, was postponed from April 1 to April 19, although Nike never specified a reason for the delay.

Public furor has intensified in wake of this second incident, with the patience being afforded to Morant diminishing. ESPN’s Michael Wilbon, one of the most prominent sports analysts in America, said he wouldn’t purchase Morant’s sneakers for his own son. “Our money as a family is not going toward that,” Wilbon said during the edition of NBA Countdown immediately following the incident.

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