The NBA has suspended Memphis Grizzlies player Ja Morant for 25 games next season for brandishing a gun in a social media video.
In a statement, the NBA said the 23-year-old was suspended without pay “for conduct detrimental to the league”.
It said Morant “posed with a firearm in a car during a live-streamed video” on 13 May, making it the second time the player has flashed a handgun in a video.
He was previously suspended for eight games after another live stream showed him with a gun while “intoxicated” and visiting a nightclub in March.
Morant was due to make about $33.5m (£26m) in the 2023/24 season but now stands to lose just over $300,000 (£233,888) per game during this suspension – roughly $7.5m (£5.8m) in total.
The point guard will be required to meet certain conditions by the NBA before he returns to the court, and will be ineligible to participate in any league or team activities during his suspension, including pre-season games.
‘Alarming and disconcerting’
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Morant’s decision to wield a gun was “alarming and disconcerting” following his similar conduct and suspension three months ago.
Mr Silver added: “The potential for other young people to emulate Ja’s conduct is particularly concerning.
“Under these circumstances, we believe a suspension of 25 games is appropriate and makes clear that engaging in reckless and irresponsible behaviour with guns will not be tolerated.”
‘Sorry for the harm I’ve done’
Morant apologised to the NBA, the Grizzlies, his teammates, and the city of Memphis for his actions.
The two-time All-Star said: “I’ve had time to reflect and I realise how much hurt I’ve caused… I’m sorry for the harm I’ve done.
“To the kids who look up to me, I’m sorry for failing you as a role model. I promise I’m going to be better…And to all of my fans, I’m going to make it up to you, I promise.
He said he was working on his “mental health and decision-making” in order to prove that he was “a better man than what [he was] showing”.
Following NBA’s decision the Grizzlies said in a statement: “We respect the League’s decision to suspend Ja Morant following this latest episode.
“Our standards as a league and team are clear, and we expect that all team personnel will adhere to them.”