Ja Morant shaking his finger at a Golden State Warriors player May 1, 2022; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) celebrates making a layup to end the first half against the Golden State Warriors during game one of the second round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Joe Rondone-USA TODAY Sports

Memphis Grizzlies All-Star Ja Morant is in hot water again, jeopardizing his career and reputation by flashing a gun on Instagram Live. This continues a worrying trend for Morant, who pulled a similar stunt two months ago in Denver, prompting his suspension for “conduct detrimental to the league.”

Morant reflected on that incident in a sit-down interview with ESPN’s Jalen Rose, assuring he had learned from his lapse in judgment, calling it a “terrible mistake.”

Those words ring hollow in hindsight, shameless PR spin disguised as heartfelt sentiment. The NBA was incentivized to sweep that scandal under the rug, letting Ja — one of the league’s most exciting and marketable young stars — off with a relative slap on the wrist.

Morant’s controversy over the weekend may have been a tipping point of sorts, losing the benefit of the doubt while exhausting any remaining goodwill he had with sponsors including Powerade, with whom he has a multi-year endorsement deal. Powerade has quickly distanced itself from the troubled 23-year-old, conveying to ESPN’s Michele Steele that the company isn’t featuring Morant in any of their current or upcoming marketing campaigns.

A unique and charismatic talent, it’s beyond frustrating to see Morant succumb to his own worst impulses, sabotaging his career in a cloud of self-destruction that runs far deeper than the garden-variety growing pains so many young athletes experience. Nike has stood by Morant to this point, supporting him the same way it did Tiger Woods after his career was derailed by addiction and infidelity. Kyrie Irving’s antisemitism proved to be a bridge too far, however, dissolving a decade-long partnership that produced eight signature shoes.

Will Morant endure the same fate? That’s to be determined, though it’s evident Morant faces an uphill battle to rehab his public image, giving his endorsement brands plenty to think about as he weathers his latest setback.

[Michele SteeleNBA on ESPN]

About Jesse Pantuosco

Jesse Pantuosco joined Awful Announcing as a contributing writer in May 2023. He’s also written for Audacy and NBC Sports. A graduate of Syracuse’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications with a master’s degree in creative writing from Fairfield University, Pantuosco has won three Fantasy Sports Writers Association Awards. He lives in West Hartford, Connecticut and never misses a Red Sox, Celtics or Patriots game.