“I understand what I have to lose,” says Ja Morant, reflecting on recent events.

Memphis Grizzlies superstar Ja Morant said in an interview Wednesday that in the week and a half since the incident that landed him an eight-game NBA suspension, he has realized just how much risk he was taking with his pattern of poor off-court decision-making.

Hours after the Grizzlies played the Nuggets in Denver on March 3, Morant posted an Instagram Live video from a nightclub in which he can be seen holding a gun with his left hand. Soon after, the star guard entered a counseling program at a facility in Florida, and the league office investigated his use of firearms.

“Honestly, I feel like we’ve put ourselves in this situation with our mistakes in the past, and now we better focus on being smarter and more responsible, holding each other accountable for everything,” Morant said during an interview Wednesday. with ESPN’s Jalen Rose referring to his inner circle. “I feel like we didn’t know what was at stake before. And now I have time to understand everything, to be alone, I understand it now.

“I understand what I have to lose and what we have to lose as a team. It’s just about being responsible, being smarter and avoiding all the bad decisions.”

Morant conducted the interview with Rose in New York after meeting with NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who called Morant’s actions “irresponsible, reckless and extremely dangerous” in his announcement of the eight-game suspension Wednesday.

Since the video was released, Morant has been estranged from the Grizzlies, and the franchise previously said he would be available for at least Wednesday’s game against the Miami Heat. The eight-game league suspension includes six of the games he missed, including Wednesday’s at Miami.

“It was a good — open discussion,” Morant said of his meeting with Silver. “Obviously he said things that I needed to be better, but just to support me. I accepted that, and I apologized to everyone — the league, myself, my teammates, my family — and the negative attitude towards all of us with a bad decision.”

Morant said the gun shown in the video was “not mine,” but did not say who owned it or how he got it.

“It’s not me,” Morant said. “I don’t condone this or any form of violence, but I take full responsibility for my actions. I made a mistake. I see a picture painted over me with my recent mistakes. But in the future, I’m going to show everyone who Ja really is, and I show me what I’m all about and change the narrative that everyone is talking about.”

Morant described his decision to host an Instagram Live session at Shotgun Willie’s strip club in Glendale, Colorado as “trying to be free.”

“I used it as an escape, which I shouldn’t have,” Morant said. “I think it’s because I’ve made so many bad decisions in my past that it doesn’t describe me at all, it doesn’t describe Ja as a person. I’m a completely different person than what’s portrayed in the media. That’s my current job. So I’ve taken this time to be a better Ja so that everyone can see Ja. can see who he really is and you know what he’s about.”

Morant vaguely discussed other recently reported incidents, including a fight with a 17-year-old during a basketball game in his backyard, a fight with a security guard at a Memphis mall after his mother called him out, and a brawl at a Memphis high school. prompted an NBA investigation in response to his younger sister’s abuse during a volleyball game and a postgame altercation between Morant’s teammates and the Indiana Pacers. None of the incidents resulted in arrests or criminal charges.

“Most of the things that happened before, of course, I made myself by being there,” Morant said. “But all of the stories you’ve seen recently are lies. I can’t say much about these cases because they’re all sealed. I can’t wait to finally tell the truth. But what I can say is, like I said before, none of this is my character. I’m a big family man. I’ve always been I care about my family. So I just checked for the safety of my family. It’s safe and I left the scene.”

Shortly after posting the video in Colorado, Morant deleted his Instagram and Twitter accounts. He entered Florida’s counseling program following the announcement that he was taking time away from the team.

As part of the counseling program, Morant said she spoke with therapists, learned that it was okay to express her feelings and worked on stress management techniques such as Reiki treatments and anxiety breathing.

“I feel good mentally because it doesn’t feel like it’s been a long time since I’ve been in the league,” said Morant, 23, a four-year NBA veteran. “I’m in a very comfortable space. I spent those days learning how to be there for myself and learn different ways to manage stress in a positive way.”

Morant reactivated her social media accounts on Wednesday evening and posted a Powerade ad on her Instagram page.

Although he will be eligible to rejoin the Grizzlies on Monday, he will not play that night at home against the Dallas Mavericks. He said he needed extra time to physically prepare to return after not practicing during his time in Florida.

“I’ve put my team in a difficult position because I can’t be on the field because of the decisions I’ve made,” Morant said. “I regret all of this. I can’t wait to get back on the floor now, knowing what my punishment is. I accept that and I feel like I deserve that punishment for my mistakes and what I’ve done. But when I get back out there, I’ll be ready to go and push the ring. “.

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