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Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant momentarily stepped away from basketball due to his off-the-court controversies.
After exiting a counseling program in Florida meant to work on his self-destructive behavior — which has landed him in hot water with the NBA and its fans — Morant spoke with ESPN’s Jalen Rose in a tell-all-style interview on Wednesday.
The NBA assigned Morant an eight-game suspension hours before the sit-down.
Rose’s softball questions led to a rather tame confrontation with Morant, an All-NBA talent the public has wanted to hear from.
The interview was also Morant’s first time addressing the night club gun controversy on Mar. 4, which saw Morant flashing a gun in his left hand during a public Instagram Live video stream. He released a statement on the incident but has not appeared on an NBA court since.
In general details, Morant spoke on his $50,000 bender inside a Denver strip club where he filmed his IG Live gun video.
Morant claimed the handgun from the video did not belong to him.
“The gun wasn’t mine,” Morant told Rose.
Morant’s highlight from the interview came when he admitted to not condoning “any type of violence” — a not-so-subtle nod to recent allegations of using firearms to intimidate Indiana Pacers personnel and physically assaulting a 17-year-old boy.
“It’s not who I am. I don’t condone any type of violence, but I’ve taken responsibility for my actions,” Morant said to Jalen.
“I put myself in a bad position,” Morant admitted.
Did Ja Morant Learn A Lesson?
Morant shared that not seeking counsel or therapy ultimately led to some of his destructive behavior. He will have to answer whether he’s equipped to last in this league once he’s back to action. The 23-year-old’s time away from the Grizzlies was spent practicing his breathing and exploring Reiki (a Japanese healing practice).
“I feel mentally good,” Morant said. “I was constantly talking to therapists. I’ve been doing Reiki treatment. I’m doing anxiety breathing different stuff to help me manage that and release all that stuff from my body.”
Morant will be eligible to return on Monday versus the Dallas Mavericks. The NBA’s eight-game suspension accounted Morant’s previous suspension with the team.
“I feel mentally (better) than I have in many years,” Morant stated. “I’m in a space where I’m very comfortable.”
As relayed by the New York Post, the retired Jalen Rose admitted that Ja is in a position of losing everything if he continues to explore acting like a thug rather than an NBA athlete.
“He has way too much to lose,” Rose shared on ESPN’s “NBA Countdown.”
“Trust me, I’ve been that young player carrying a gun. … When you start waving it, that can get you killed. That’s an entirely different thing than we’re talking about a superstar athlete should be putting themselves in position.”
Morant was drafted second overall in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Follow Alejandro Avila on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela
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