MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Memphis star guard Ja Morant says he obviously made a terrible decision and many mistakes.
The two-time All-Star apologized again Tuesday.
“I’m completely sorry for that,” Morant said after practice speaking for the first time since concluding his eight-game suspension by the NBA. “So, you know, my job now is, like I said, to be more responsible, more smarter, and don’t cause any of that no more.”
The next question is when Morant is back on the floor for the Grizzlies.
The NBA suspended Morant eight games for brandishing a gun in a social media video post at a Denver-area strip club on March 4. The eighth game was Saturday’s win over the Golden State Warriors.
Morant was on the bench in street clothes Monday night when Memphis beat Dallas with the Grizzlies giving him time to condition himself after two weeks away from the team. Morant is expected to play Wednesday night at home against Houston.
During his absence, Memphis went 6-3 and returned to the second spot in the Western Conference just 3 1/2 games behind Denver.
Forward Dillon Brooks said Morant — seeing how the team has played recently — offered to come off the bench when he returns.
Brooks vehemently rejected that suggestion after the Grizzlies’ 112-108 win over Dallas.
“I said; ‘Hell, no.’ You’re too good of a player,“ Brooks said of the conversation. “You’re the engine of this team, and I’m going to need you out there getting reps and getting acclimated to who you are as that third quarter, fourth quarter closer.”
That’s the consensus in the Memphis locker room, including Tyus Jones, who replaced Morant at point guard. They don’t see the Grizzlies’ leading scorer needing to do anything to win back the trust of his teammates.
“We’re looking forward to getting him back on the court, not necessarily putting the past behind us, but learning from the past and continuing to improve moving forward — for him, for this team,” Jones said.
When Morant came to the Grizzlies bench just before the tipoff of Monday’s game, the Memphis faithful gave him a standing ovation, a cheer that built as fans recognized him emerging from the tunnel from the locker room. Brooks said that shows what Morant means to the team and the city.
“He’s the one who really put this city on the map,” Brooks said. “We were a low-market team just roaming around the NBA. Now, we’re one of the most talked-about teams in the NBA. We have a pride and a chip on our shoulder every single game.
“He doesn’t have to prove nothing to us.”
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