ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith has a message for Ja Morant after the Memphis Grizzlies guard was suspended for flashing at gun at a strip club in an Instagram Live video early Saturday morning.
That incident led to a two-game suspension that Morant will serve in the coming days.
The Grizzlies star is also being sued over an alleged assault of a teen and flashing a gun to him after a pick-up game last summer, which Morant has insisted was self defense.
In lieu of Morant’s missteps and troubles, Smith warned the All-Star guard by suggesting the NBA has ties to the nation’s top cops.
“And so many times, we don’t tell these players this: The NBA has off-duty police officers. They got connections with the FBI,” Smith said on ESPN prior to Saturday night’s game between the 76ers and Bucks.
“They got connections with everybody. The NBA knows what you’re doing. They know who you’re doing it with. They know where you are. They know how you’re conducting yourself at all times.”
Smith closely covered Allen Iverson’s time with the Philadelphia 76ers in the early 2000s, and during the Sixers-Bucks pregame show Saturday, Smith compared Morant’s recent troubles to those of Iverson’s once upon a time.
“You are a superstar. You are 23 years old. You got a deal that kicks in next year that could exceed $231 million over the next five years, and on this show, on national television, there’s you associated with police,” Smith said. “Think about that for a second and then ask yourself, ‘Is it really, really worth it?’ You know the answer to that, bro. It’s not worth it.”
Smith added: “You’re a superstar basketball player You represent your organization. You represent your family. You represent your city. You got to be mindful of all of that. It’s never off.”
On Saturday, Nike released a statement in support of Morant, who has become one of the faces of their brand from a basketball standpoint.
“We appreciate Ja’s accountability and that he is taking the time to get the help he needs. We support his prioritization of his well-being,” Nike said, per The Athletic.
Additionally, Morant released his own statement over the weekend.
“I’m sorry to my family, teammates, coaches, fans, partners, the city of Memphis and the entire organization for letting you down,” Morant said. “I’m going to take some time away to get help and work on learning better methods of dealing with stress and my overall well-being.”
Morant, who also performed a mocking finger-gun celebration during a win over the Rockets on Wednesday, will at minimum miss the Grizzlies’ games against the Clippers on Sunday and Lakers on Tuesday.
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