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Memphis Grizzlies v New Orleans Pelicans

Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies reacts after a dunk during overtime of an NBA game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Smoothie King Center on December 26, 2023, in New Orleans, Louisiana. | Source: Sean Gardner / Getty

The NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies’ overtime victory Tuesday night over the New Orleans Pelicans made for a four-game winning streak powered by star point guard Ja Morant in his fourth game back from a 25-game suspension for wielding guns on social media.

But Morant’s celebratory gesture following a spectacular alley-oop play could end up overshadowing what is otherwise a feelgood story from a team surging after the return of its beleaguered leader.

Video footage going viral late Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning showed the NBA superstar catch a pass above the rim before slamming it through triumphantly. When Morant landed back on the court, he extended both his arms toward the audience and briefly made apparent “trigger finger” gestures with each hand – seemingly pretending to shoot and all – before they quickly morphed into a “night-night” pose, which is used to taunt the opposing team that is metaphorically being put to bed after a game-winning play sealing the outcome.

While it may seem ironic that Morant – who recorded 31 points and 7 assists against the Pelicans – decided to do the whole gun posturing thing, especially after being suspended more than 20% of the regular season for flashing guns on live social media videos, it’s perhaps even more ironic that the Grizzlies’ social media decided to post the video, which ultimately helped draw [more negative] attention to its embattled superstar.

Criticism ridiculing Morant as being gun-happy to his detriment quickly followed the social post.

Again, this likely wouldn’t even be a thing if Morant didn’t have a reputation for glorifying guns. He is supposed to be in the process of repairing that reputation with his play on the court, including having been named Western Conference player of the week just hours before tipoff against the Pelicans.

But Morant, 24, has for nearly a year been both directly and indirectly associated with guns.

Ja Morant’s association with guns

In January of this year, Morant’s “acquaintances” were investigated following a postgame incident allegedly involving a gun.

The Athletic published a report claiming “acquaintances of Grizzlies star Ja Morant aggressively confronted members of the [Indiana] Pacers traveling party near the team’s bus in the loading area of FedExForum, and later someone in a slow-moving SUV — which Morant was riding in — trained a red laser on them.”

It was also reported that a Pacers’ security guard present at the time remarked, “That’s 100% a gun.”

During the game, Morant notably exchanged words with Pacers guard Chris Duarte.

Then, Pacers assistant coach Lloyd Pierce got upset at something said across the court by Morant’s friend, Davonte Pack, who walked on the court and toward the Pacers’ bench. Pack was escorted away from his courtside seat and did not return.

Morant had a few things to say to Pacers rookie Andrew Nembhard, as well.


That investigation ultimately uncovered no wrongdoing and Morant kept playing uninterrupted.

Fight with a teenager

Weeks later, allegations surfaced claiming that Morant and at least one of his friends repeatedly punched a 17-year-old boy in the face and head during a pickup basketball game at the star’s home during the summer of 2022. In that instance, Morant is also accused of going into his home and emerging with a gun in his waistband. Morant reportedly claimed he was defending himself from the teenager.

That incident resulted in a civil lawsuit that is currently playing out in a case that earlier this month was indefinitely postponed by a Tennessee judge.

Alleged threats at the mall

The alleged encounter with the teenager happened four days after Morant and “a group of as many as nine other people” allegedly “threatened” a sneaker shop employee after a dispute with the basketball player’s mother in a Memphis mall, according to police reports obtained by the Washington Post. When mall security confronted the group, a man in Morant’s group allegedly assaulted the employee. Morant then said, “Let me find out what time he gets off,” according to police reports, which also state that the mall security “felt threatened by the statement from Ja Morant.”

The suggested implication is that Morant and the group were going to return to the mall and physically confront mall security.

The Grizzlies soon suspended Morant indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team.

Gun video emerges

Around that same time, a video of Morant showed him brandishing a gun in a Colorado bar. The footage quickly went viral on social media and ultimately prompted an investigation from local law enforcement.

As the investigation was being conducted, Morant was shown during a game against the Houston Rockets employing a similar “trigger finger” gun posturing celebration that he was shown doing Tuesday night.


The investigation didn’t result in any criminal charges, but the Grizzlies upheld Morant’s suspension which ultimately lasted for eight games.

Morant vowed to “take some time away to get help and work on learning better methods of dealing with stress and my overall well-being.”

Another gun video

Two months later, though, it was déjà vu all over again for Morant, who was once more shown happily dangling a gun in front of a camera that documented the moment via video uploaded to social media for the world to see.

This time, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver – who said he was “shocked” by the footage – stepped in to adjudicate Morant’s punishment of 25 games that began being served when the current season began in October.

Last week, on Dec. 19, Morant regained his eligibility, returned from his suspension and promptly sank the game-winning shot to beat the Pelicans.

This week, however, could bring a different fate depending on how, or if, the NBA responds to the new video footage.


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Video Shows Ja Morant Do ‘Trigger Finger’ Celebration During Game Following NBA Star’s Suspension For Guns  was originally published on