Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant scored 34 points, including the game-winning shot, against the New Orleans Pelicans in his return from a 25-game suspension for his social media antics with guns.
Morant ran through the tunnel and back into the locker room after the game was over. He had a message for critics.
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“I kept receipts,” he said.
Receipts from what was unclear. He did not miss time because he lost his luster or was injured. He was suspended because of multiple gun incidents, coming to a head with a second incident when he was caught on social media video holding the weapon. The first game earlier in the year, when he appeared to hold a gun in a Denver strip club, he missed eight games over that incident. He was never charged.
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Aside from the gun videos, Morant is in a legal battle stemming from a fight he got into at his house with a then-17-year-old. Four days earlier, Morant had allegedly “threatened” the head of security at a Memphis mall, and a member of Morant’s group shoved him in the head.
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In another incident, the Indiana Pacers claimed a red laser was pointed at players from an SUV that was carrying Morant.
The Pacers believed a gun was being pointed at them and reported the incident to NBA officials, although the NBA investigated the incident and found that no “individual threatened others with a weapon.”
Morant was booed in his return to the floor against the Pelicans as Memphis won 115-113. However, as the boos died down, Morant turned up the heat and led the Grizzlies to the win after being down 24 points.
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“I’ve been putting work in, man,” he said. “I ain’t play a game in eight months. Had a lot of time to learn myself. A lot of hard days where I went through it. But you know, basketball is my life — what I love, therapeutic for me. And I’m just excited to be back.”
Morant’s 34 points were the most in NBA history by a player coming back from an absence of at least 25 games.
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“I’ve been working hard, but there’s nothing like NBA basketball,” he added. “I just had to lock in and push through — pretty much my life, you know, just continuing to push, no matter what.”
Fox News’ Ryan Morik and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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