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Grizzlies’ Ja Morant greeted with standing ovation in return from suspension

Ja Morant received a standing ovation from Grizzlies fans when he returned to the court Wednesday for the first time following his NBA suspension.

Morant, who didn’t start, entered the game for the first time with three minutes remaining in the first quarter, and he finished with 17 points, five assists, four rebounds, two steals and one block — while playing 24 minutes in the Grizzlies’ 130-125 victory over the Rockets at FedExForum.

The Commercial Appeal described Morant’s initial entrance as a “loud standing ovation.”

According to ESPN, Morant’s father, Tee, and uncle, Phil, both wore customized sweatshirts Wednesday with “REDEMPTION” printed.

Morant hadn’t played since March 3, the game before he appeared to flash a gun while at a strip club during an Instagram Live video.

That came the same week allegations surfaced in a story from The Washington Post — off-court incidents involving a 17-year-old teenager repeatedly punched in the head, with Morant also accused of later returning with a gun visible in his waistband, and a separate one with a mall security officer.

Morant also faced backlash for a 3-point celebration that involved a finger-gun reaction.

Ja Morant returned to the court Wednesday for the first time since his suspension.
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Tee Morant wore customized sweatshirts supporting his son Wednesday.
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His absence from the team started with “at least” two games, the Grizzlies announced the same day of Morant’s strip club video, but that timeline changed when ESPN reported Morant entered a counseling program in Florida and the NBA issued its eight-game suspension — which included the time he’d previously missed.

“Ja’s conduct was irresponsible, reckless and potentially very dangerous,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “It also has serious consequences given his enormous following and influence, particularly among young fans who look up to him. He has expressed sincere remorse for his behavior. Ja has also made it clear to me that he has learned from this incident and that he understands his obligations and responsibility to the Memphis Grizzlies and the broader NBA community extend well beyond his play on the court.”

Ja Morant was suspended eight games for flashing a gun at a strip club.
Twitter DJ Akademiks @Akademiks

Morant was eligible to return for the Grizzlies’ game Monday night.

Ahead of Wednesday’s game, Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins said Morant coming off the bench “might be the case for a couple of games.”

The Grizzlies, which sit in first place in the Southwest Division, will face the Rockets again Friday night in Memphis.