Over the past year Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies has been at the center of much controversy. From thuggish behavior in malls, to threats to a shoe salesman, to intimidation of a security guard, to brandishing a gun in his Instagram feed. He went from being one of the up-and-coming faces of the NBA to someone in need of an intervention, which the NBA provided when it suspended him for 25 games at the beginning of the 2023-24 season as a result of his actions.
However, this troubling behavior by Ja Morant did not exactly come out of nowhere according to Memphis. In fact, according to Baxter Holmes and Tim McMahon of ESPN, Grizzlies executives began to worry about Morant, his behavior and the type of company he kept in the run-up to the 2022 All-Star Game. During the flight to Cleveland, Morant went live on Instagram and indiscreetly passed bottles of tequila to members of his inner circle who were in his private jet, which Grizzlies executives said represented a turning point in their cornerstone’s career.
“It was on that weekend, say several sources within the Grizzlies organization, that some early warning signs became habitual. When the concerns of the team and the league intensified. And that’s when, sources say, Morant’s misconduct accelerated, becoming more frequent and public.”, Holmes and McMahon write.
According to the ESPN article, Morant’s father would be partly guilty because he allegedly took his underage son during the 2019-20 season to party at “seedy” Memphis clubs and strip clubs, drinking, sometimes even on nights before games.