One day soon, Ja Morant will emerge from a tunnel with his teammates flanking him as he takes the floor of an NBA arena for the first time in his new reality.
He’ll address the media, take the repeated questions about his activities and habits that led to his eight-game suspension and treatment in Florida — probably statements that will feel rehearsed and very un-Ja like.
It’ll be the first day of being an NBA grown-up, the sheen of innocence gone. The days of the devil-may-care attitude won’t come as easy once you’ve danced with the devil that is NBA mortality, and he’ll probably be better for it as opposed to it hardening him.
It’s one thing to toe the line of danger, especially with the public. Most NBA stars are buttoned up and family-friendly, so Morant was taking a different road. But until now, the general thought was he was harmless, energetic and reflective of the culture the NBA now embraces — for better or worse.
That doubt is removed now, temporarily.
The NBA doesn’t want Morant to fail. It didn’t benefit the league to throw the book at him for what “could’ve” happened — not even the justice system goes that far. Besides, it knows how important he is to the future and its present.
The Gilbert Arenas comparison is certainly salacious to chew on, even if it’s so bad it’s enough to rot one’s teeth. But the league concluded he didn’t bring a weapon onto team premises — a huge delineation from Arenas’ incident nearly 15 years ago. That cost Arenas 50 games from then-commissioner David Stern, who was free to suspend him however he saw fit.
Stephen Jackson is probably a little closer to precedent for Morant, sources told Yahoo Sports, from a 2006 incident outside of an Indianapolis strip club. Jackson fired a gun in the air trying to break up a fight and was hit by a car in the aftermath — the league determined his role was worth a five-game suspension in the start of the 2007-08 season, months after the legal case ran its course.
Raymond Felton, then of the Knicks, pleaded guilty to felony gun charges in 2014 before going to Dallas. His suspension was…
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Author : Yahoo Sports
Publish date : 2023-03-15 23:53:10
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