Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal sent a strong message to Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant amid the fallout from a social media video in which he displayed what appeared to be a gun while at a nightclub.
During Tuesday’s edition of the “NBA on TNT,” O’Neal weighed in on the controversy and reminded Morant, “You’re not a rapper, you’re an NBA player.”
O’Neal added that the two-time All-Star guard only has himself to blame for his current situation: “You don’t go live, nobody knows he has a weapon, [then] we’re not talking about this, but he did that.”
Morant has become one of the most popular players in the league over the past couple of years. He was the Rookie of the Year in 2020 and has been named to two All-Star teams.
O’Neal questioned Morant’s thought process during the situation but acknowledged the amount of hard work it took for Morant to rise to stardom. O’Neal does not want to see everything that Morant built slip away from him.
“Why are you in the strip club with no shirt? Why are you walking around with a weapon? And why’d you hit the live button? So, we have to stop putting ourselves in positions where they can take away the things that we work hard for.”
Shaq said he hopes the 23-year-old Morant learns from his decision and challenged him to surround himself with friends who will hold him accountable.
“Remember, this is a decision. This isn’t an instance where I had it, I’m dancing and it goes off. This is an instance where I pull it out, I hit the button and I wiggle it for everybody to see. So, he did it to himself. He has to deal with what’s coming. And I know he has a lot of support around him. And his friends can’t be yes friends. I love my crew. We fight and argue all the time. But you know what? They keep me in line. My friends keep me in line. They like, ‘You ain’t about that life. You don’t need to be doing that. Forget all that.’”
Two-time Super Bowl champion Shannon Sharpe told TMZ Sports that Morant’s dad, Tee Morant, should focus more on being a father figure than a friend going forward.
“It’s OK to be a friend,” Sharpe said at LAX. “But you got to be a father, too, and when you see your son doing something wrong, you got to step to him and say it’s wrong.”
Sharpe and Tee Morant were involved in an altercation after the Hall of Fame football player heckled Grizzles forward Dillon Brooks from his courtside seat during a Lakers game at Crypto.com Arena in January.
The Grizzlies have not placed a timetable on Morant’s return.