NBA Suspends Ja Morant For 25 Games And Reveals The Only Thing That Matters

The NBA and commissioner Adam Silver suspended Memphis Grizzlies superstar Ja Morant for 25 games without pay on Friday. The suspension begins immediately and will include all offseason activities, training camp, and preseason, with the team’s first regular season game of the 2023-24 season counting as game one. There is also a “program” Morant must “fulfill” to be reinstated, but the length and timing reveal the only thing that matters to the league.

“Ja Morant’s decision to once again wield a firearm on social media is alarming and disconcerting given his similar conduct in March for which he was already suspended eight games,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “The potential for other young people to emulate Ja’s conduct is particularly concerning. Under these circumstances, we believe a suspension of 25 games is appropriate and makes clear that engaging in reckless and irresponsible behavior with guns will not be tolerated.”

Is A 25 Game Suspension An Adequate Punishment?

Many predicted at least half a season (41 games) suspension and possibly more for Morant, so the news of 25 games seems light. More important than the amount of games are the details of this “program” Silver says Morant must “fulfill.”

“For Ja, basketball needs to take a back seat at this time,” Silver said in the statement. “Prior to his return to play, he will be required to formulate and fulfill a program with the league that directly addresses the circumstances that led him to repeat this destructive behavior.”

What are the particulars of this program? What entities is the league and the NBPA working with to ensure Morant is on the road to recovery? Once he “fulfills” the “program” is that it? Will he have ongoing support? Will there be mandatory requirements and check-ins?

Of course we will never get the answers to those questions, and I’m not even suggesting we should. The real question is, does the league have Morant’s best interest at heart?

The NBPA and Executive Director Tamika Tremaglio called the suspension “excessive and “inappropriate.”

NBA Is Protecting Its Bottom Line

Twenty-five games means Morant will be eligible to return in early December, give or take. That gives the league some margin to extend his suspension if he’s behind on his “program fulfillment.” But it likely ensures that he will be available for the NBA’s slate of Christmas Day games, where the Grizzlies will likely be one of the featured teams.

The NBA’s Christmas schedule is very important to the league’s broadcast partners and with a new deal pending, those numbers have to look good. That means all the superstars are on parade.

The league is demonstrating where its priorities lie. The bottom line.

Twenty-five games also means Morant will only play a maximum of 57 games, which means he’ll be ineligible for all regular season awards and All-NBA. That has already cost Morant $39 million on his contract extension, which begins on July 1. His failure to earn All-NBA means his five year-$194 million rookie max extension didn’t jump to “supermax” at roughly $233 million.

Morant will also lose an additional $7.6 million next season as a result of the suspension.

His poor decision-making is putting his life and the well-being of people that depend on him at risk. It is also negatively impacting his personal bottom line.

His biggest sponsor, Nike, is still backing him.

This moment is where Morant and those around him need to invest in all the necessary resources to keep him safe and get him what he needs to mature, grow and deal with the responsibility and opportunity in front of him.

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