Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant expressed remorse during his recent ESPN interview with Jalen Rose. But according to Michael Wilbon, contrition isn’t enough.
Wednesday night, Morant addressed his recent pattern of poor off-court decisions, which culminated when he was seen on Instagram Live holding a gun in a Denver nightclub earlier this month. Morant spoke publicly for the first time in an interview with Rose, part of which was aired on ESPN’s NBA Countdown. Rose and Stephen A. Smith commended Morant for opening up and displaying humility, but Wilbon needs more.
“I gotta hear more than the expression of contrition,” Wilbon said after watching Morant’s sit-down with Rose. “And by the way, everything that everybody said so far, I hear you. I agree with that, cause you gotta start there. But there better be a real turn in behavior RIGHT NOW. Right now. No more promises. We’ve seen a ton of athletes, entertainers, politicians, they can promise, they can express contrition, but what’s the behavior like. Is Ja Morant ready to tell people, ‘Get out of my life. You’re. You’re done now. I’ve got to take hold of this.’”
Shortly after Morant’s Instagram Live video went viral on March 3, he released an apology and stated he would be stepping away from the Grizzlies “to get help.” Morant then entered a counseling program in Florida as the NBA investigated the incident, which resulted in an eight-game suspension for Morant.
Wilbon noted the money Morant lost because of the suspension, but also cited the endorsement deals that were impacted by his poor off-court decisions.
“I realize what I have to lose, and for us as a group, what we have to lose,” Morant told Rose. “It’s pretty much just that: being more responsible, more smarter and staying away from all the bad decisions.”
Morant said the right things during his interview with Rose, no one will argue that. But after Morant alluded to battling issues beyond what we saw on the Instagram Live video, it bears asking if an eight-game break is long enough to address those matters.
“What are you going to do besides express contrition…It’s time for Ja Morant to be better,” Wilbon said. “I’m not talking about basketball! He’s great, he’s first team All-NBA. What about his life? You see what’s happened in Georgia and Alabama, we’ve seen what’s going on when young people are not marshalled in the proper direction and made to be accountable and responsible and maybe even fearful! It’s time for Ja Morant to get that now.”