The news that has been lingering for the last couple of weeks dropped on Friday, and we now know that Ja Morant will be suspended for the first 25 games of the 2023-24 season.
This will be Morant’s second suspension in the last several months after the superstar guard was suspended in March for eight games following an Instagram Live post from a strip club showing a gun he was holding. Many thought Morant learned his lesson from that suspension, but he hadn’t.
That is why it is no surprise that Morant will miss over a fourth of the upcoming season. Twenty-five games is a huge part of an NBA season, but this suspension is not the most games an NBA player has been suspended for. Everything from on-court fights to drugs and even bringing a gun into the locker room and made players miss more time over the last decade.
Here are the five NBA players who have been suspended for the most games in NBA history. We are not counting lifetime bans as some players, specifically in the ‘80s, received lifetime bans due to drug use.
5. Javaris Crittenton: 38 games
Javaris Crittenton is probably the most disappointing person on this list, considering how his life eventually turned out. Critteton was drafted 19th overall by the Los Angeles Lakers but bounced around the league for years before ending up with the Washington Wizards.
Crittenton and Gilbert Arenas would have an altercation involving guns in the locker room. Reportedly the Crittenton confronted Arenas about an unpaid bet, and both drew guns on each other. Luckily it didn’t go any further, but the NBA two days later suspended both players. Crittenton was suspended for 38 games and was placed on one-year probation after pleading guilty to misdemeanor gun possession charges.
Crittenton would not play again in the NBA, and it would only get worse from there. In 2011 Crittenton was charged with murder in the shooting death of Julian Jones in Atlanta.
Javaris Crittenton sentenced to 23 years for murder of a mother of 4. Apologized to her family. #wsbtv
— Tom Jones (@TomJonesWSBTV) April 29, 2015
Crittenton was just released from prison in April of this year.
4. Gilbert Arenas: 50 games
Arenas is a three-time former All-Star whose rise and fall is something every NBA player should take note of. As previously mentioned Arenas was part of the above locker room incident, was suspended for 50 games by the NBA. Arenas kept unloaded firearms in his locker even before this incident.
Because he violated NBA rules and Washington DC laws, the NBA came down hard. Because Arenas was more talented than Critterton, he could come back and play in the NBA. His career, however, was never the same as the Wizards would trade him shortly afterward, and he would be out of the league by 2012.
3. Latrell Sprewell: 68 games
Latrell Sprewell has had one of the most interesting careers in NBA history. He is a four-time All-Star and made the First Team All-NBA team in 1994. He was off to a great start to his career, but that all changed in 1997 when Sprewell choked head coach P.J. Carlesimo after the two got into a yelling match during practice. To make matters worse, Sprewell returned to the court and swung at Carlesimo.
Initially, he was suspended for 10 games by the Warriors, but after public outcry, he was suspended for the entire season. Unlike the previous two players, Sprewell would go on to have a good career after the incident. Sprewell went on to play with the New York Knicks and Minnesota Timberwolves from 1999-2005. In the 1999 season, he helped lead the Knicks to the NBA Finals as an eighth seed.
2. Ron Artest: 86 games
Ron Artest, or Metta Sandiford, is probably the player who resurrected his career more than any other person on this list after the incident that led to his suspension. Artest is an All-Star and NBA champion. The NBA champion part is something many didn’t think would ever happen, especially after his 86-game suspension in 2004.
Called the “Malice in the Palace,” Artest was part of the biggest brawl in NBA history. Artest ran into the stands after someone threw a water bottle at him while he laid on the scorer’s table in Detroit. All hell broke loose afterward as fans and players engaged in several minutes of fighting.
The aftermath was like nothing we had ever seen, as it made national news for weeks. Artest was given the longest suspension in NBA history at the time and still the longest on-court suspension ever. Artest would demand a trade from the Pacers the following season.
Artest went on to play for the Sacramento Kings, helped the Houston Rockets end their first-round playoff drought, and of course, helped the Lakers win the 2010 NBA championship. After four seasons, the Lakers waived Artest, and he bounced around the league before playing his final NBA game in 2017.
1. OJ Mayo: 164 games
The highest draft pick on the list, O.J. Mayo was drafted No. 3 overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves and then immediately traded to the Memphis Grizzlies in 2008. That is probably the high point of Mayo’s career. Mayo had a couple of good games in his rookie season, but he could not stay out of trouble.
He was suspended 10 games for a positive steroid test, he fought teammate Tony Allen over a card game, and eventually bounced around the league for several years before landing with the Bucks. On July 1, 2016 Mayo was dismissed from the NBA for his second drug violation. He wouldn’t be eligible for reinstatement until the 2018-19 season.
Mayo has not returned to the NBA playing overseas for several years, most recently in 2022 with the Egyptian club Zamalek of the Egyptian Basketball Super League.