The Grizzlies find themselves at the center of another controversy involving spectators and players.
According to a report from Bob Kravitz and Sam Amick of The Athletic, an incident involving associates of All-Star guard Ja Morant and members of the Pacers traveling party has led to an NBA investigation.
Why did this particular incident require a probe from the NBA? Here is what we know about the incident as well as what’s been said in the aftermath.
Ja Morant-Pacers incident, explained
The incident occurred on Jan. 29, when the Pacers visited the Grizzlies at Memphis’ FedEx Forum. According to The Athletic’s report, it began during the game when Morant’s father, Tee, and friend, Davonte Pack, engaged in a verbal back-and-forth with a number of Pacers players.
Morant’s friend was ultimately escorted off the court and removed from the game.
Ja Morant and Andrew Nembhard got into it and eventually James Johnson got involved. Looks like Ja Morant’s friend Davonte Pack was escorted off the floor. pic.twitter.com/etvu1yIXHZ
— Damichael Cole (@DamichaelC) January 30, 2023
The Grizzlies would come out with a 112-100 win, but the incident reportedly escalated following the game. Here’s more from The Athletic:
Following a game between the Indiana Pacers and Memphis Grizzlies on Jan. 29 in Memphis, acquaintances of Grizzlies star Ja Morant aggressively confronted members of the 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.
Pacers staffers that spoke with The Athletic under the condition of anonymity shared that they were under the belief that the red laser was attached to a gun. According to their account of the situation, there was a Pacers security guard that said “that’s 100 percent a gun.”
No police report was filed.
The report indicates that, in the lead-up to the laser incident, Pack and the Pacers traveling party were engaged in a shouting match in the arena’s loading area for 15 to 20 minutes. As Ja Morant and his associates exited the arena in separate vehicles, the laser was pointed in the direction of the Pacers traveling party.
NBA spokesperson Mike Bass confirmed the league’s investigation, but he could not corroborate that anyone was threatened with a weapon.
Bass added that “certain individuals involved in the postgame situation and a related matter during the game that night have been subsequently banned from attending games in the arena,” hinting that Pack would be banned from FedEx Forum for his role in the incident.
Ja Morant response
Not long after the report was published, Morant took to Twitter to share his response to the allegations, saying the investigation revealed lies and the article was an attempt to harm his image. Morant’s tweet also hints that Pack has been banned from FedEx forum for a year.
“Did [an] investigation seen they were cappin,” Morant tweeted, categorizing the Pacers’ allegations as lies. “Still let [an] article come out to paint this negative image on me [and] my fam. [And] banned my brother from home games for a year.”
Morant closed his tweet sharing his disbelief and adding a laughing emoji.
On Feb. 7, Morant told reporters that “all that stuff [is] pretty much false.” He declined to offer more details about the incident.
“I honestly don’t care, bro. At this point in my life, I’m protecting my energy, bro,” Morant said. “I’m not responding to nobody else, not entertaining nobody else. That’s what they need, likes and clicks.”
Ja Morant addressed a reported postgame confrontation between Pacers players and his friends:
“All that stuff, pretty much false. It’s been proven. That’s all I’ve got to say on it.”
“I’m protecting my energy. Not responding to nobody else. Not entertaining nobody else.” pic.twitter.com/fRbcnKok8D
— Clayton Collier (@ClaytonJCollier) February 7, 2023
The franchise declined to comment on the situation outside of acknowledging that it “complied completely with the league’s investigation.”
“That was addressed internally,” Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins said. “[I was] aware of the investigation — the NBA did a full-on investigation, we were fully compliant with it and I think they came out with a statement saying nothing was corroborated or found, so that’s what I know and that’s what I’m going to comment about.”
Prior to the Raptors and Grizz game, Taylor Jenkins comments on the report from the Athletic concerning associates of Ja Morant following a verbal altercation with the Indiana Pacers on Jan.29th pic.twitter.com/UTub55xNZ1
— Colin Cody (@ColinzCody) February 5, 2023