The NBA’s all-time list of the longest suspensions for a player, ranked by length

The NBAs all-time list of the longest suspensions for a player, ranked by length

The news that had been rumored for the past few weeks finally came out on Friday: Ja Morant will miss the first 25 games of the 2023-24 season due to suspension.

The star point guard was banished for eight games in March after he broadcasted himself at a strip joint while brandishing a gun on Instagram Live. Many people believed Morant had learned his lesson from his suspension, but he had not.

As a result, it shouldn’t come as a shock that Morant will sit out nearly half of the 2017 season. Although 25 games is a significant portion of an NBA season, this punishment is not the longest in NBA history. Over the past decade, players have missed more games due to on-court confrontations, drug use, and even the introduction of a firearm into the locker room.

The five NBA players with the longest suspensions are shown below. Some athletes, particularly in the ’80s, were banned for life because of their drug use, but we’ve not included them in our tally.

5. Javaris Crittenton: 38 games

Javaris Crittenton - 38 games suspension

Considering how his life turned out, Javaris Crittenton is the most disappointing individual on this list. Even though the Los Angeles Lakers selected him 19th overall, Critteton spent years bouncing around the NBA until landing with the Washington Wizards.

Crittenton and Gilbert Arenas would fight in the locker area over some firearms. Guns were drawn when Crittenton allegedly confronted Arenas about an unpaid bet. It stopped there, thankfully, but the NBA punished both players for two games. After admitting to misdemeanor gun possession charges, Crittenton was suspended for 38 games and given a year of probation.

The end of Crittenton’s NBA career was just the beginning of his troubles. After Julian Jones was shot and killed in Atlanta in 2011, Crittenton was arrested and charged with murder.

In April of this year, Crittenton was finally freed from prison.

4. Gilbert Arenas: 50 games

Gilbert Arenas - 50 games suspension

Every NBA player may learn from Arenas’ ascent and fall, as he is a three-time former All-Star. Arenas, who was involved in the aforementioned locker room incident, was given a 50-game suspension by the NBA. Even before this occurrence, Arenas had been known to have unloaded guns in his locker.

The NBA took swift action since he had broken league regulations and local laws in Washington, DC. Arenas’s superior talent to Critterton’s allowed him to return to the NBA. His career never recovered; the Wizards traded him soon after, and he was out of the league by 2012.

3. Latrell Sprewell: 68 games

Latrell Sprewell - 68 games suspension

It would be hard to find a more intriguing NBA career than Latrell Sprewell’s. He’s been to the big show four times, and in 1994 he was named to the NBA’s All-NBA First Team. After a heated argument with head coach P.J. Carlesimo during a 1997 practice, Sprewell’s promising career came to an abrupt halt when he choked Carlesimo. As if things couldn’t get any worse, Sprewell came back to the court and swung at Carlesimo.

The Warriors had originally punished him for 10 games, but public outcry forced them to extend the suspension until the end of the season. In contrast to the previous two players, Sprewell would go on to have a successful career after the incident. From 1999 through 2005, Sprewell was a member of the NBA’s New York Knicks and Minnesota Timberwolves. He was a major reason why the eighth-seeded Knicks made it to the NBA Finals in 1999.

2. Ron Artest: 86 games

Ron Artest - 86 games suspension

Among these athletes, Ron Artest (or Metta Sandiford) has done more to revive his career since the incident that led to his suspension. Artest has been an NBA champion and an All-Star. Many people didn’t think he’d ever win an NBA title, especially after he was suspended for 86 games in 2004.

Artest, infamously known as the “Malice at the Palace,” was involved in the nastiest altercation in NBA history. While resting on the scorer’s table in Detroit, Artest was pelted with a water bottle, prompting him to flee into the crowd. After then, there was a complete breakdown in order, and several minutes of fighting broke out between spectators and players.

The fallout was unprecedented and widely covered in the media for weeks. At the time, Artest’s ban was the longest in NBA history, and it remains the longest for an on-court violation to this day. The next year, Artest would ask to be traded by the Pacers.

After his time with the Lakers, Artest played for the Sacramento Kings, ended a long playoff drought for the Houston Rockets, and of course, helped the Lakers win the 2010 NBA title. The Lakers released Artest after four years, and he spent the next few years bouncing around the NBA before retiring in 2017.

1. OJ Mayo: 164 games

OJ Mayo - 164 games suspension

In 2008, the Minnesota Timberwolves selected O.J. Mayo third overall. Almost immediately afterward, Mayo was dealt to the Memphis Grizzlies. That performance was undeniably Mayo’s finest hour. In his first year, Mayo played well in a few games but often got in trouble.

After being suspended for 10 games for a positive steroid test and getting into a fight with teammate Tony Allen over a card game, he was shuffled around the league for a while before settling in with the Bucks. Mayo was kicked out of the NBA for a second time on July 1, 2016, due to a positive drug test. His reinstatement window would open in the upcoming 2017-18 campaign.

Since 2022, when Mayo was still playing for Zamalek in Egypt’s Egyptian Basketball Super League, he has not returned to the NBA to play domestically.

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