Ja Morant said that he “doesn’t condone any type of violence” during an ESPN sit-down Wednesday — just hours after he was temporarily suspended by the NBA for waving a gun around at a strip club.
“It’s not who I am. I don’t condone any type of violence, but I’ve taken responsibility for my actions,” the embattled Grizzlies star told NBA analyst — and Post columnist — Jalen Rose on ESPN’s “NBA Countdown.”
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“I put myself in a bad position,” he said.
Morant claims the gun he brandished on a March 4 Instagram Live video didn’t belong to him, but admits it was foolish to grab the weapon for the world to see.
Morant apologised — his second regarding the incident — to his teammates and family for “putting that negativity toward all of us with a known bad decision.”
“I’m gonna show everybody who Ja really is, what I’m about and change this narrative that nobody got painted over me,” he promised.
“I realised I have a lot of kids who looked up to me, even some adults, a lot of fans and I realise my past mistakes is in being a good role model. So, just got to be better in that area, be more responsible, be smarter and make better decisions.”
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The 23-year-old guard told Rose he has spent the last 11 days talking with therapists and trying to learn from his mistake.
“I feel mentally good,” Morant said. “I was constantly talking to therapists. I’ve been doing Reiki treatment. I’m doing anxiety breathing different stuff to help me manage that and release all that stuff from my body.”
Rose was gentle with Morant, and said he empathised with his activities — and even admitted to visiting the same strip club during his time as an NBA player.
On Saturday Rose said Morant was likely caught up with the spoils of fame, but reminded the four-season player he is not only risking the rest of his career, but his life.
“He has way too much to lose,” Rose said on ESPN’s “NBA Countdown.”
“Trust me, I’ve been that young player carrying a gun … When you start waving it, that can get you killed. That’s an entirely different thing than we’re talking about a superstar athlete should be putting themselves in position.”
Morant has been away from his team since March 4, the same day he posted a 5:19am video of himself waving a handgun at a Denver-area strip club.
The viral video showed the shirtless 23-year-old player rapping along to the music with a firearm in his left hand.
Morant had spent the better part of his weekend — and $50,000 in tips — at Shotgun Willie’s.
Images obtained by The Post show the basketball star happily receiving a lap-dance from a G-string-clad brunette inside the body shop’s VIP room — where almost every inch was covered in cash.
A club insider said Morant blew into the club just hours after the Grizzlies mauled the Rockets 113-99 in Houston on March 2.
He returned two days later brandishing the gun, which “absolutely terrified” Shotgun girls in the back room.
Morant’s video earned him a temporary NBA suspension and an investigation by Glendale police, who ultimately determined that there was not enough evidence to charge him with a crime.
Morant quickly issued a public apology for whipping out the firearm.
“I take full responsibility for my actions last night. I’m sorry to my family, teammates, coaches, fans, partners, the city of Memphis and the entire Grizzlies organisation for letting you down,” he said in a March 5 statement.
The 23-year-old guard has a history of brandishing firearms.
Morant is embroiled in a lawsuit for allegedly beating a 17-year-old over a dozen times during a pick-up game over the summer before showing his victim a gun in his waistband.
In February, the NBA investigated allegations by the Indiana Pacers that Morant’s crew “aggressively confronted” members of the team’s travelling party and aimed a red laser at them, which they believed could have been attached to a gun.
Morant can return to the court Monday — his eight-day suspension covers the five games he has already missed.
This story originally appeared on the New York Post and has been reposted with permission