Ja Morant’s ill-advised gunplay was stupid, but a 40-game suspension would be way too far

May 17, 2023

I hate guns. I mean I really hate them.

I live in Canada, where most gun owners have rifles for shooting things in the bush. Our country was spared the type of gun crime we see in America for one specific reason; we don’t have a 2nd Amendment that codifies gun rights.

Guns are as American as Apple Pie and iced tea without sugar.

When Memphis Grizzlies superstar Ja Morant was seen on social media brandishing a handgun while riding as a passenger in a friend’s car, the media lost their shit. Morant has had two other incidents involving firearms, with one incident resulting in an eight-game suspension last March.

The thing is, no charges have been laid against Morant. Obviously his behaviour is problematic, and he has a responsibility to the franchise he plays for, but the whispers that he might be suspended for 40 games is, well, overkill.

That figure was trotted out by ESPN’s Chris ‘Mad Dog’ Russo, who used his show, First Take, to float the idea of Morant being suspended for half a season.

Just a reminder – nobody was hurt, and apparently guns are a God-given right in the USA.

“I know I’ve disappointed a lot of people who have supported me,” Morant said in a statement. “This is a journey and I recognize there is more work to do. My words may not mean much right now, but I take full accountability for my actions. I’m committed to continuing to work on myself.”

Critics point to this archaic notion that athletes are supposed to be role models. I’m old enough to remember Charles Barkley using his show sponsor to deliver a very different message – I Am Not A Role Model. Barkley was considered to be a semi-bad boy back in his playing days, but his message resonated with people like me who were more interested in how an athlete performs on the court, not when he is hanging with his friends.

Would I hang out with Morant? No, probably not. I hate guns. Why would I hang with someone who pulls his out every time he sees a smartphone pointed at him?

But let’s remember a few things here. First, Morant is just 24 years old, and he’s been a star athlete for nearly half his life. In other words, he’s probably spoiled. That’s not a good look, but he’s no gangster.

Second, the NBA is filled with players who have assaulted women, committed gun crimes and a host of other horrible acts. When Gilbert Arenas actually took a gun from his locker and pointed it at the head of a teammate, he got 50 games.

Morant, like an idiot, pulled his gun out while in his buddy’s car. Stupid, yes. But let’s not get carried away.

Because thirdly, he lives and works in America. Getting caught with a gun in the United States is like getting caught with a Beaver Tail in Canada. Sure, it’s nasty and not good for anyone, but it is difficult to punish when the country has put it on a pedestal and claimed it as part of the cultural fabric.

Contributing Writers

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