Before the 2023 NBA Finals tipped off, commissioner Adam Silver told the world the league’s investigation into Ja Morant’s latest gun incident had uncovered new information and reached its conclusion. Silver just wasn’t going to tell us the punishment Morant would receive until after the Finals, because he didn’t want to distract from the play on the floor between the Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat.
It felt odd that Silver was more or less hyping up a suspension announcement like a new album drop. On Thursday, a day after the Nuggets took home an inspiring Game 3 win to grab control of the series, Silver went on the Dan Patrick Show to talk about … Ja Morant.
On Morant impending suspension, Silver said: “I want to find a way where, frankly, he’s not being kicked to the curb, but basketball will take a back seat. The basketball world is now waiting to see exactly what that means.
In the meantime, Silver ended the interview with a joke at Morant’s expense.
Patrick set him up for that one, and Silver finished the drill. I really can’t believe he went there.
Silver immediately held up his hands after dropping the line as if he’d done nothing at all.
Here are some full quotes from Silver on Morant’s upcoming suspension, via the Memphis Commercial Appeal:
“I also think it’s important to point out that this is not just about disciplining him and crossing your fingers hoping it’s not a third time,” Silver said. “I recognize that he needs some assistance from the league office, his union, his team. … My hope is that wherever we come out in terms of discipline, there is a an acceptance that we need to find ways to engage with each other going forward so that he can change the trajectory that he’s now on, which is not a positive one.”
“I want to find a way where, frankly, he’s not being kicked to the curb, but basketball will take a back seat and first and foremost, we’re going to focus on him as a young man developing as a better person as someone who is more responsible,” Silver added.
“My job is to measure that individual’s conduct in that moment,” Silver said. “I get a little nervous when people talk about sending a message. Sometimes it implies that you may not be fair to that individual player. … We want to portray a positive image in terms of our players in this league.”
Morant’s suspension sounds like it’s going to be a big one. The NBA suspended Morant eight games the first time he waived a gun on social media. That led to a face-to-face meeting with Silver, and a trip to counseling facility in Florida. When Morant was shown on his friend’s Instagram Live video waiving a gun again in May, the Grizzlies suspended him from team activities and the NBA launched its investigation.
This is going to be the biggest suspension release of the summer. Get your popcorn ready.