Jalen Rose

As of Sunday evening, there appears to be no timetable for Ja Morant’s return to the Memphis Grizzlies following an Instagram video streamed early Saturday that showed Morant holding what appeared to be a gun at a nightclub. It was the latest in a string of questionable moments that the 2-time All-Star has been linked to in recent weeks, some of which have involved firearms.

It was initially announced on Saturday that Morant would be away from the Grizzlies for two games and he later released a statement apologizing for the incident and saying he would use his time away “to get help and work on dealing with stress and my overall well-being.”

Sunday night, Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins declined to say when Morant would return to the team.

In the meantime, there have certainly been a lot of discussions about Morant’s behavior and any perceived punishments. ESPN’s Jalen Rose provided the most poignant response so far, drawing a connection between the recent incidents and the pitfalls he faced coming up as a highly touted basketball talent who might not understand the responsibility of his position.

“I am Ja Morant,” Rose said on Saturday night. “You guys got a chance to see me grow up for public consumption since 1991. I’ve been involved in drug raids. I’ve survived assassination attempts. I’ve been that undisciplined young person that was trying to figure out how to be famous, how to be successful, how to change the dynamics of my family.”

Rose goes on to explain how someone in Morant’s position can find it difficult to make the transition from being “a member of the family, a member of the crew, to being the leader.” He also says that it’s important to know that “people come into your life for four reasons: to add, subtract, multiply, or divide — you have to choose wisely.”

“He has way too much to lose,” Rose said. “Trust me, I’ve been that young player carrying a gun, and [Michael] Wilbon alluded to this: 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 themself in position. And as Stephen A [Smith] mentioned, that’s him on the video, on his IG Live. Ain’t nobody coaxing him, ain’t nobody egging him on to do that, that’s a personal choice.”

Ultimately, Rose hopes that Morant is able to understand that “fame can be a drug” and this is an opportunity to live positively instead of being consumed by it.

“He’s a 23-year-old young man, nobody got arrested, nobody got injured, and I’m hearing too many stories about pistols, ok?” Rose said. “Allegedly with the 17-year-old kid, allegedly with the Indiana Pacers staff, last night on IG Live, I saw the video like you guys did brandishing the gun. The next step to that is now recovery, and I believe he’s on that path, I’m happy that he’s on that path.

“He’s gonna return, and he’s gonna be a better person, and because of all of this taking place, he’s gonna be able to live his full potential.”


About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to sean@thecomeback.com.