Being the commissioner of a professional sports league isn’t exactly the easiest job in the world, although people in that line of work are usually compensated very well for the various matters they’re tasked with handling on a daily basis.
Adam Silver was more than aware of that reality based on how much time he spent working with former NBA commissioner David Stern before taking the reins after his predecessor stepped down from the position in 2014 following 30 years at the helm of the league.
By most accounts, Silver has more than managed to hold his own in the close to a decade he’s been in charge (especially when you compare him to Goodell, Gary Bettman, and Rob Manfred, all of whom are significantly more reviled among the fans of the teams that comprise the organizations they lead).
He’s certainly had plenty of headaches to deal with, including the pandemic that forced the NBA to play out the remainder of the 2019-20 season in “The Bubble,” the Daryl Morey tweet that drew the ire of the Chinese government, and the scandal involving Donald Sterling that ended with Silver holding a press conference where he famously banned the former owner of the Clippers “for life.”
Silver once again found himself grappling with an issue that became impossible to ignore over the course of 2023 courtesy of Ja Morant, who repeatedly landed in hot water during a season where he was suspended for flashing a gun on Instagram Live before doing the exact same thing less than two months after he served the punishment.
Based on what the commissioner had to say prior to the first game of the NBA Finals between the Heat and the Nuggets, the NBA already knows what it plans to do when it comes to disciplining the embattled Grizzlies guard but has decided to wait until the offseason officially commences until it announces that decision.
There’s no telling how long Morant will be forced to sit out this time—although he’ll undoubtedly be hoping it doesn’t come close to touching some of the incredibly lengthy suspensions that have been issued in the past.
What’s the longest suspension handed out to an NBA player?
I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume Morant will not join the list of the dozens of players who’ve received a lifetime ban, as those suspensions are exclusively linked to points-shaving scandals (as well as other gambling-related issues) and people who repeatedly violated the league’s substance abuse policy.
As things currently stand, it seems like there’s a solid chance he will end up matching—or possibly surpassing—the 50 games Gilbert Arenas served after bringing a gun into the Wizards locker room in 2010 (the evidence at hand suggests Morant has never pulled a similar move, but his status as a repeat offender makes its seem like a similar measure could be taken).
It also doesn’t seem totally off-base to suggest the NBA could really bring the hammer down and force Morant to sit out a full season. That wouldn’t be without precedent, as that was the punishment Latrell Spreewell initially received for choking Warriors head coach P. J. Carlesimo at a practice in 1997 before it was reduced to 68 games.
However, anyone who’s familiar with the fallout of the infamous incident known as “The Malice at the Palace” likely knows that answer to this question is Ron Artest.
Artest was essentially responsible for sparking the chaos that ensued after he stormed into the stands in pursuit of the fan who threw a cup of soda at him while he was laying on the scorer’s table on that fateful night, and he ultimately missed a grand total of 86 games (73 in the regular season in addition to 13 in the playoffs) before being reinstated at the start of the 2005-06 campaign.
I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if that’ll be topped.