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NBA star Ja Morant insists he ‘never had an alcohol problem,’ sought help for stress management

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Memphis Grizzlies star Ja Morant spoke publicly for the first time Tuesday about the gun drama that led to a suspension and time away from the team for counseling.

Morant had been in counseling at a Florida facility before he returned to the bench for Monday night’s game against the Dallas Mavericks. He didn’t play in the game but appeared happy to be back with his teammates and is expected to return to the floor on Wednesday.

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Grizzlies guard Ja Morant on the sideline before the Dallas Mavericks game, Monday, March 20, 2023, in Memphis.

Grizzlies guard Ja Morant on the sideline before the Dallas Mavericks game, Monday, March 20, 2023, in Memphis. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

The former Murray State standout was seen on an Instagram Live video holding a gun in a strip club after a game against the Nuggets in Denver. He received an eight-game suspension for brandishing a gun.

He told reporters he “never had an alcohol problem” and vowed to abandon social media.

“I went there to counseling to learn how to manage stress,” Morant said. “Cope with stress in a positive way, instead of ways I’ve tried to deal with it before that caused me to make mistakes.”

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Grizzlies guard Ja Morant before the Dallas Mavericks game, Monday, March 20, 2023, in Memphis.

Grizzlies guard Ja Morant before the Dallas Mavericks game, Monday, March 20, 2023, in Memphis. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

He also apologized for his actions.

“I’m completely sorry for that,” he said. “So, you know, my job now is, like I said, to be more responsible, more smarter, and don’t cause any of that no more.”

Memphis was 6-3 in Morant’s absence and could really use an injection of offense that the star point guard can do night in and night out.

The 23-year-old is on the verge of having his best season ever. He’s averaging 27.1 points, 8.2 assists and 6 rebounds per game.

Grizzlies guard Ja Morant hugs Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving after their game Monday, March 20, 2023, in Memphis.

Grizzlies guard Ja Morant hugs Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving after their game Monday, March 20, 2023, in Memphis. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

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Entering Wednesday, Memphis is second in the Western Conference with a 44-27 record. The Grizzlies are on the verge of clinching a playoff spot.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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