JJ Redick is correct that there is a macro issue in this country with politicians using firearms as campaign posters. A majority of Americans would agree with him on that. In one space of that mass of plutocracy, policy, and posturing is Ja Morant posing with one of this country’s most polarizing and pernicious problems.
American lives are being literally shot down on a daily basis while several states have made buying a firearm less regulated than a can of beer. This will continue regardless of how the NBA and Memphis Grizzlies chose to act following Morant’s latest social media faux pas. However, while the NBA can’t stop the United States gun epidemic, it can deal harshly with someone who said one thing and did another.
When talking to Malika Andrews during ESPN’s Tuesday night telecast of the 2023 NBA Draft Lottery, Adam Silver was clearly upset with Morant. The NBA Commissioner kept his emotions in check, but he laid out the discussion that he and Morant had before his March punishment. Silver made it clear that he told Morant why he was wrong the first time that he was recorded holding a firearm. He also felt that he had gotten through to Morant, but he turned out to be sadly mistaken.
That is why Morant will likely receive a hefty suspension. He had an extensive heart-to-heart conversation with his boss about why previous actions were inappropriate and were also punished. Then, two months later, Morant committed the same offense. The only difference this time was that it was daylight, he was wearing a shirt, and there were no women around him.
Redick can make the semantic argument about the exact parameters of a second offense possibly not being defined, and yes the NBPA will be working hard this summer to limit the length of a potential Morant suspension. So Mad Dog Russo’s proposed 40-game suspension was great for television on Tuesday but is unlikely to be levied. However, Morant appears to have gone through the motions to get back onto the court as opposed to absorbing anything from his conversation with Silver, and that will be used against him.
The larger argument made by Redick is well-intentioned — gun laws in certain states are constantly being relaxed, while firearm fatalities in Texas are at their highest rate in three decades. Why are a couple of Instagram Live videos from Morant worthy of punishment while politicians can run ads in which they discharge firearms?
This is the argument that versions of were made all over social media on Sunday once the video and his suspension from team activities went viral. The counter is simple: Donald Trump got fired from The Apprentice for calling Mexican immigrants criminals. The next year he was elected president with that rhetoric as a significant part of his platform.
All that it takes to hold office in America is to win an election. After that, as long as elected officials don’t act like George Santos their job is pretty much safe. There is no standard when your boss is a gerrymandered electorate. When you are hired by a company or organization, there is a standard that you will be required to uphold.
Of course, America needs to have an honest discourse about firearms, but from 1996-2019 the CDC was not allowed to use federal funding to study the subject. That is how unserious this country has been about the safety of its inhabitants.
That level of seriousness is far more costly to the public than Morant’s, but that isn’t the point here. The point is that one of the NBA’s most well-known employees is behaving in an irresponsible and dangerous manner. Redick and others can try to win an argument on technicalities if they want. Morant still has to be dealt with in a way that makes a forceful effort to convince him to stop this behavior.