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As the NBA continues to deal with the fallout from Ja Morant’s recent strip club incident, an awkwardly-timed lead-in to its broadcast Thursday did not do any favors. It was not intentional, but it was not a great look.
The entire saga began earlier this month when Morant flashed a gun on an Instagram Live video after playing against the Nuggets in Denver. Photos of his visit to Shotgun Willie’s recently emerged and he was having himself an evening.
Police investigated the incident and did not find enough evidence to charge anyone with a crime, but the young Memphis guard remains suspended by the team. He is taking time to focus on his mental health and his behavior in dealing with stress.
There has been a lot of dialogue in the wake of Morant’s gun flash. Much of it has been drivel, with the talking heads yelling into the abyss, but quite a few valid questions have been raised along the way.
- Was it Morant’s gun?
- How did he get a gun to Denver?
- Does Morant travel everywhere with a gun?
- Do other players travel strapped?
- What is the NBA’s policy on traveling with firearms and how does it apply here?
All of those questions remain mostly unanswered— which is where Thursday comes into play.
Before the Grizzlies took the court at home against the Warriors, the TNT broadcast cut to a clip from pregame arrivals. Jaren Jackson Jr. arrived to the stadium and went through standard security measures.
He took his things out of his pocket and walked through a metal detector. As he did, the metal detector light turned from green to red.
It appeared as though Jackson set off the metal detector, but he continued into the arena without a check. It may have also flashed red so that the system could reset and nobody else would walk through until it turned back to green.
Players always go through a metal detector while entering the arena. That is not unusual. Nor is it unusual for a broadcast to show the player go through the process in pregame.
It is the timing of the airing, and the fact that Jackson may have set off the metal detector, that makes things awkward. Maybe TNT should have just left that part out?
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“It may have also flashed red so that the system could reset and nobody else would walk through until it turned back to green.”
That’s exactly what happened. I’ve worked arena security and event staffing for four years and the lights at the front of the metal detector are basically a stop “red” or go “green” light system. On some systems, a set of lights along the side of the machine would indicate where metal would be detected and, on some systems, they’re located at the front and the back of the machine.
That said, for those who don’t understand how metal detectors work, it might have had them confused as to whether or not he had something that he wasn’t supposed to. Still, I don’t think it’s a good idea for networks to air players going through security as that might inadvertently expose operations that the team, arena operator or security company might not want broadcast to a national audience.