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Kenny Smith On Ja Morant: ‘At Some Point It’s Not Your Friends, It’s You’

Over the weekend, Ja Morant was once again seen with a gun in his hand on an Instagram Live video, two months after being suspended for eight games for a similar video during a road trip in Denver.

After the first video, Morant pledged to be better and try to learn from his mistakes, which is why it was so stunning to see him doing the exact same thing mere months later. Adam Silver noted he was “shocked” to see the video when asked about it at the Draft Lottery, and reports indicate there could be a lengthy suspension coming Morant’s way. Morant issued a brief statement about the video during the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s Game 1 between the Lakers and Nuggets, noting correctly that at this point, his words hold little weight for most.

There has been ample discourse about Morant’s actions and what comes next in terms of punishment from the league, with some like J.J. Redick wondering why he should face a substantial punishment for something that isn’t illegal. On Wednesday night, prior to Game 1 of the Heat-Celtics series, the TNT crew had a strong discussion on the topic and addressed a lot of what they’d been hearing from other talking heads about the situation.

The full 10-minute conversation can be watched above, starting with Kenny Smith explaining how NBA contracts come with a morality clause and noting that he’s tired of hearing about how Morant needs new friends, because “at some point it’s not your friends, it’s you.” He also says that, the good news in the situation, is nothing bad has happened…yet. There’s time for him to make the changes and have the only thing he’s done be hurting his image, but that if changes don’t happen, he’s inviting something much worse from people who want the power, access, and money he has.

Charles Barkley, unsurprisingly, takes a more blunt approach, likewise calling for Morant to “look in the mirror,” while noting that when you’re in the position he’s in, you get held to a different standard than most people. “When you’re making $100 million a year to play sports, your life changes,” Barkley says. “There are certain rules and regulations you have to live by, plain and simple. You can’t do stupid stuff. That’s the trade off!”

Shaq followed that point up by saying that you’re one of the faces of a multi-billion dollar business, you can’t do those things, which Kenny piggybacks to point out that if something happens to Morant, that impacts an awful lot for the Grizzlies and the league.

It’s not often the entire Inside panel is on the same page on something, but in this instance they are and each hopes to see Morant accept the responsibility that comes with his position before something actually bad can happen.