Washington Wizards star Kyle Kuzma was asked about the situation involving Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant, who was suspended for two games for appearing to brandish a gun on social media.
Kuzma, who won an NBA championship with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020, was asked about the latest controversy about the Grizzlies star after the Wizards lost to the Toronto Raptors 116-109 in overtime Saturday night.
He said NBA players are blessed to be in the situation they’re in and drew parallels to his own situation where he had to come to a realization about who he was keeping in his own circle.
“I just feel like as Black men in our country, especially us in the position that we have, that we’re blessed to be 1-percenters. We’re blessed to have, in his case a shoe deal, $200 million on the horizon, and I think a lot of the time we are figures but we are role models, too,” Kuzma explained. “And you have to realize that everybody, every kid, everybody in general, they’re watching us. It’s just unfortunate.
“I know that when I first came into the league I had all my homeboys around me back from the city. We had great times and it was very important to keep my homies around because I grew up with them. But if my homies are just yes’n me and they’re not allowing me to be the best version of myself – are they really my homies?
“It just sucks, man. It definitely sucks.… I look at another guy like Miles Bridges. One of my brothers too. It’s all about your circle. you gotta keep your s— tight. For us, like I said we’re blessed to have these situations, to have all this money and this clout and we want to try and use it for as much good as possible. No matter who you are. He’ll learn from it. He’s so young. He’s got a bright future. It’s part of his journey.”
STEPHEN A. SMITH WARNS JA MORANT: NBA HAS FBI CONNECTIONS, THEY KNOW HOW YOU’RE ACTING AT ALL TIMES
WARNING: EXPLICIT LANGUAGE
Morant streamed the video on his Instagram Live and a screenshot of him appearing to hold the gun was quickly circulated around social media outlets. The video was streamed hours after the Grizzlies played the Denver Nuggets early Saturday morning. The Grizzlies were set to take on the Clippers and Lakers in their upcoming games in Los Angeles.
Morant issued an apology.
“I take full responsibility for my actions last night,” Morant said. “I’m sorry to my family, teammates, coaches, fans, partners, the city of Memphis and the entire Grizzlies organization for letting you down. I’m going to take some time away to get help and work on learning better methods of dealing with stress and my overall well-being.”
The gun incident is the latest in a string of controversies looming over the superstar point guard. Morant’s actions were investigated after a Jan. 29 incident in Memphis that he said led to a friend, Davonte Pack, being banned from home games for a year.
Morant and Pack also are involved in a civil lawsuit brought after an incident this past summer in which a 17-year-old alleged that they assaulted him at Morant’s home. The Shelby County District Attorney’s Office said in January that it was “aware of the incident, and after careful review of the facts, decided that there was not enough evidence to proceed with a case.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.