Jay Williams says Ja Morant’s redemption feels like a ‘facade’

Jay Williams believes Ja Morant took a page out of the “crisis management playbook for athletes” with how “fast” the Grizzlies star has handled treatment for his off-court issues.

During Thursday’s episode of “Keyshawn, JWill, & Max” on ESPN, the NBA analyst discussed Morant’s sit-down interview — which aired Wednesday with the network’s Jalen Rose — and said that his rehabilitation process seems “like a facade.”

Williams began by saying he supports Morant, who is serving an eight-game suspension without pay after a social media video from earlier this month showed the 23-year-old holding a gun in a Colorado strip club.

“For me to actually believe that a week of counseling, when there has been a series of incidents of behavior that’s been shown, that all of a sudden now everything is addressed — I don’t believe that at all. I don’t,” Williams said.

“To me, this is like a facade a little bit. This is page six out of the crisis management playbook, or manual for athletes.”

ESPN NBA analyst Jay Williams on his morning show, “Keyshawn, JWill and Max” on March 16, 2023.

Williams went on to explain the timeline of events in Morant’s crisis management following the release of the gun video, which included a counseling program in Florida.

“… Number one: What happens? You make a statement where you sound like an actual adult — check. He did that,” Williams said.

“Number two: You disappear for a while. You let it come out from your camp: ‘I’m receiving help’ — like him actually going to rehab.”

Prior to entering the program, Morant said in a statement how he planned to “take some time away to get help and work on learning better methods of dealing with stress and [his] overall well-being.”

Williams then outlined the next steps toward a comeback.

Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant during a game against the Lakers at FedExForum on Feb. 28, 2023 in Memphis, Tennessee.
Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant during a game against the Lakers at FedExForum on Feb. 28, 2023 in Memphis, Tennessee.
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“… And then you kind of initiate coming back: You do a meeting with [NBA commissioner] Adam Silver, you talk it through — and then you do a sit-down and you kind of show remorse and talk about what you’ve learned, and then you try to get back to playing your sport.

“But that doesn’t make me truly believe that you have truly learned and that there are habits that all of a sudden are going to be changed. I hope they’re going to be changed.”

Williams expressed how the process “feels like a facade.”

“… It feels like a facade… Very fast. You just went through 20 pages of the manual.

“Hold on a second. Usually, when you check into a rehab, where you’re going through stress or anxiety, it’s like a 20, 25-day process. I’ve talked to people who own rehab facilities. I’m not sure that you just learn every valuable lesson within a week.”

Michael Wilbon on ESPN's "NBA Countdown" on March 15, 2023.
Michael Wilbon on ESPN’s “NBA Countdown” on March 15, 2023.

Fellow ESPN personality Michael Wilbon explained on Wednesday’s “NBA Countdown” show that “expressing contrition” isn’t enough in Morant’s case.

“Ima be a little harsh,” Wilbon said after watching Morant’s sit-down with Rose [which begins at the 6:50 mark]. “I gotta hear more than the expression of contrition.

“And by the way, everything that everybody said so far, I hear you. I agree with that, cause you gotta start there. But there better be a real turn in behavior right now. Right now. No more promises.

“We’ve seen a ton of athletes, entertainers, politicians, they can promise, they can express contrition, but what’s the behavior like. Is Ja Morant ready to tell people, ‘Get out of my life. You’re done now. I’ve got to take hold of this.’”

During the interview with Rose — who hosts The Renaissance Man podcast for The Post — Morant said the gun did not belong to him.

Morant added that he takes full responsibility for his actions.

“The gun wasn’t mine,” Morant said. “It’s not who I am. I don’t condone any type of violence, but I take full responsibility for my actions.

“I’ve made a bad mistake. I can see the image that I’ve painted over myself with my recent mistakes. In the future, I’m gonna show everybody who Ja really is, what I’m about, and change this narrative.” 

Morant — who has left the counseling program in Florida — met with Silver on Wednesday in New York, where the NBA’s headquarters is located.

The All-Star point guard had already missed games prior to the eight-game suspension to tend to his mental health, which counts towards the discipline.

Although Morant is eligible to return to the Grizzlies on Monday, there is no exact timetable for his return.

Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant shoots a jump shot over Rockets’ Jabari Smith Jr. during the first quarter at Toyota Center on March 1, 2023 in Houston, Texas.
Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant shoots a jump shot over Rockets’ Jabari Smith Jr. during the first quarter at Toyota Center on March 1, 2023 in Houston, Texas.
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An investigation into the gun video by the Glendale Police Department in Colorado — which was filmed at Shotgun Willies gentleman’s club in Denver — determined that there was no probable cause to file any charges.

The Post obtained exclusive photos of Morant’s controversial night out, that included a $50,000 spending spree.

The gun video came after a string of separate incidents involving police that reportedly concerned the Grizzlies.

After a Grizzlies-Pacers game on Jan. 29, the NBA investigated allegations by Indiana that Morant’s entourage “aggressively confronted” members of their traveling party and pointed a red laser at them, possibly attached to a gun. 

Morant later confirmed that his friend, Davante Pack, was banned from Memphis’ FedExForum following the laser incident. 

Memphis is tied with the Kings for the second spot in the Western Conference with a record of 41-27.

Morant signed a five-year rookie maximum extension with the Grizzlies worth up to $231 million last year.