Ja Morant Image Credit: (ABC24 Memphis Youtube Thumbnail)

Ja Morant Is Wrong but America’s Fear of Black Gun Owners Is More Telling

Listen to this story

Ja Morant pulling out a gun on Instagram Live was reckless and he deserves to face consequences for those actions. Morant also must audit his circle of friends and eliminate people who are potentially detrimental to his career.

But that’s not the end of the story.

On May 14, the Memphis Grizzlies announced their superstar was suspended “from all team activities pending League review” after a second IG Live video with Morant dancing with a gun in a car surfaced.

Morant’s recent actions continue a league of problems for the 23-year-old star guard.

On March 15, Morant was suspended for eight games without pay for “conduct detrimental to the league” after an investigation of Morant in a live-streamed video at a Denver area nightclub determined he was “holding a firearm in an intoxicated state,” and his conduct was “irresponsible, reckless and potentially very dangerous.”

The NBA’s official statement about the suspension concluded with Commissioner Adam Silver stating, “Ja has also made it clear to me that he has learned from this incident and that he understands his obligations and responsibility to the Memphis Grizzlies and the broader NBA community extend well beyond his play on the court.”

The league’s investigation did not conclude “the gun at issue belonged to Morant,” yet clearly, Morant and his friends did not learn.

The most recent video came from the account of Devonte Pack, a reportedly long-time friend of Morant and co-owner of MBNO clothing brand.

Pack was reportedly barred from Grizzlies’ home games for a year after a January 29 incident during a game against the Indiana Pacers.

According to Damichael Cole of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, after a verbal altercation with several Pacers players as he was seated courtside, Pack was escorted from the floor.

The Athletic reported “acquaintances of [Morant] aggressively confronted members of the Pacers traveling party near the team’s bus in the loading area of FedExForum” and “later someone in a slow-moving SUV — which Morant was riding in — trained a red laser on them.”

Morant has been seen in MBNO clothing, is from Sumter, South Carolina like Pack, and they both played on the same South Carolina Hornets AAU team.

Although Pack tweeted there was “false info” surrounding the investigation that led to him being barred, this is the second incident Pack has been involved in that potentially put his friend’s career in jeopardy.

If Morant does not make the decision to sever ties with Pack or any other people deemed to bring him in jeopardy of conduct detrimental to the league, that decision might be made for him.

At The Start

Morant, like his on-court acrobatics, came into 2023 flying financially high.

Last summer, after winning the Most Improved Player award, Morant was rewarded with a 5-year, $194.3 million contract with a potential to increase to $231.4 million for becoming All NBA.

On Christmas Day 2022, Nike released the Nike Ja 1 announcing Morant as “Nike Basketball’s first Gen Z signature athlete’.”

“Morant sets an example for Gen Z athletes everywhere as a leader who creates the future of the sport through his creativity, authenticity and style,” wrote Nike.

There are hundreds of millions of dollars invested in Ja Morant. But his second gun-toting incident only two months after being suspended for doing it before is grounds for the NBA potentially suspending him much longer than 8 games without pay.

This past Wednesday, Nike made the first move and removed Ja’s Hunger 1 sneaker from the Nike and Finish Line apps.

If Ja Morant is a future face of basketball and a Gen Z signature athlete, the NBA and Nike will demand Morant clean up his image, which could include severing ties with Pack and MBNO clothing.

Support For Black Gun Owners?

This situation is deeper than business decisions.

It involves the image of a young Black man brandishing a gun, and that’s where the story takes a turn.

As former NBA player and ESPN personality JJ Reddick reminded everyone in a rant about Morant, gun culture, and right-wing politician’s worship of guns, Ja Morant was not arrested for brandishing a weapon in either video.

Morant obviously needs a refresher on responsible gun possession, but what does responsible Black gun ownership look like in America? Is it even socially acceptable in America?

On July 1, 2021, Tennessee law went into effect to “permit a large majority of citizens to carry a loaded handgun on their person, openly or concealed, without having to possess a permit,” according to the Memphis Police Department.

Memphis Police in a statement, said after the law was passed: “There may now be more persons openly carrying a firearm. In turn, the public, already apprehensive of seeing armed individuals, may result in an increase in 911 calls to report the subject.”

Could someone driving next to Pack and Morant, apprehensive of seeing armed Black individuals, have called the police on Morant? Could it have led to Morant’s death in the hands of police, as media personality and culture savant Bomani Jones posited on his podcast The Right Time?

Would it matter if Morant’s gun use was lawful and he was exercising his 2nd Amendment rights?

Continue reading over at First and Pen.

This content has been brought to you by First and Pen in partnership with TheHub.News. First and Pen “amplifies local sports stories from voices of color to the national conscience…”

Follow @FirstandPen on Twitter.

You May Also Like