Paul Pierce has spoken out in defense of Ja Morant amid backlash the young NBA star has received after brandishing a gun on Instagram Live over the weekend.
On Sunday (March 5), Pierce, a former NBA stalwart and champion himself, attributed Ja’s possession of a firearm to the dangers professional athletes face as targets in society.
“I don’t care what y’all say about Ja,” the 45-year-old wrote on Twitter before referencing his own experience of surviving a near-fatal attack during his early years in the league. “I carried a gun after I was stabbed y’all don’t know what he going thru everyone got something to say until u really know what’s really going on in someone life when u black and rich u a target period,” Pierce added.
On Sept. 25, 2000, Pierce was stabbed 11 times in the face, neck, and back and had a bottle smashed over his head while at a Boston nightclub. Then a rising star heading into his third professional season, he had to undergo lung surgery to repair the damage sustained during the attack.
The standout forward would recover in time for the 2000-01 regular season and started in all 82 games, but later opened up about battling depression and paranoia following the attack and how it affected his mental health.
After footage of Morant wielding a gun surfaced on social media, the Memphis Grizzlies responded by initially suspending the former Rookie of the Year for two games. The organization later announced their decision to make the suspension indefinite after speaking with Morant himself about the incident. He has since issued a public apology for his actions and says he is seeking help with “learning better methods of dealing with stress,” as well as his “overall well-being.”
The 23-year-old has recently been the center of controversy following the report of multiple incidents he was an alleged participant in involving firearms. In July 2022, Morant assaulted a teenager during a pickup game and is alleged to have gone into his home and returned to confront the teen with a gun in his waistband. The All-Star has admitted to striking the teen but claims self-defense and says the teen made threatening statements against him and his family.
In a separate incident, the head of security at a Memphis mall said he felt “threatened” by Morant and his entourage and that a member of the group shoved him in the head, prompting him to file a police report.
No charges have been filed against Morant in either incident.