Grizzlies All-Star Morant discusses 'ongoing process' to 'cope with stress in a positive way'
Memphis Grizzlies franchise player Ja Morant faced the media on Tuesday to discuss what he had learned from his eight-game suspension.
Morant, 23, has missed nine games since showing off a gun while intoxicated on an Instagram live video in the early hours of the morning in a Colorado nightclub.
A league investigation found him guilty of bringing the league into disrepute and "holding a firearm in an intoxicated state", but did not find any evidence that the gun belonged to him, or that he took it on the team plane or any NBA facilities.
After serving an eight-game suspension from the NBA, Morant missed his ninth in a row on Monday as he worked his way back into playing shape, and he is expected to return on Wednesday at home against the Houston Rockets.
Speaking to the media about his time away from the team, where he spent 11 days at a Florida counselling facility, Morant stated he has no problem with alcohol and has been focusing on positive ways to deal with stress.
"Obviously, I took that time to better myself, get in a better space mentally," he said. "It's an ongoing process, a continued process for me.
"I've been there for two weeks, but that doesn't mean I'm completely better. So that's an ongoing process for me that I've still been continuing since I've come out.
"Obviously, I've made mistakes in the past that caused a lot of negative attention – not only to me, but my family as well, my team, the organisation – and I'm completely sorry for that.
"So my job now is, like I said, to be more responsible, more smart, and don't cause any of that no more.
"I don't have an alcohol problem, never had an alcohol problem. I went [to Florida] for counselling to learn how to manage stress, cope with stress in a positive way instead of ways I've tried to deal with it before that caused me to make mistakes."
When asked if he planned to dial back his nightlife activities, Morant said "clubbing and all is not on my mind at all right now".
"Right now for me, it's just keeping the main thing, the main thing, and continuing to go through my process of becoming a better me," he said. "I feel like if I do that, not only will it help me, but it'll help everybody around me as well."
While he received a raucous ovation from the home fans in Memphis when he returned to the bench on Monday, Morant admitted he is "uncomfortable" with how crowds may react to him.
"It's a lot, man," he said. "A lot of people don't know what's going on – not in my shoes right now with everything that's been going on as of late. Obviously, I take responsibility for decisions I've made that pretty much hurt me to the core.
"Like I said, it not only affected me, but it affected everyone around me… and caused me not to be out there on the floor. Which, one thing I love to do the most is play basketball.
"So it's a lot, but like I said before, it's an ongoing process with everything I've been doing the past two weeks, and I'm going to continue to do that to get through everything I need to be healthy."