NBA’s Response to Porter Gambling Scandal Was Perfect, Says PR Expert

Former Toronto Raptors center Jontay Porter has been banned from the NBA for gambling violations. While that story is certainly not what the league wished for as the playoffs begin, the NBA handled the crisis brilliantly.

That is according to analysis from Ed Moed, the Chief Executive Officer of Hot Paper Lantern, a marketing communications agency based in New York.

“I don’t see one thing the NBA did wrong in handling this crisis,” said Moed in an interview with Gaming Today on Wednesday. “The key thing is: something will get out pretty quickly [in regards to these incidents], and when you’re seen as the organization responsible, if you don’t get out and communicate the right way, and communicate your values, that’s when you get in trouble. The [NBA] communicated what they stand for immediately, and followed through.”

Allegations against Porter emerged on March 25 when ESPN broke the story that the player was at the center of suspicious activity involving his playing time and gambling. The Raptors cut ties with Porter immediately, and the league began an investigation and issued a permanent in less than four weeks.

MLB “Waited Too Long” on Ohtani Interpreter Gambling Scandal

By contrast, Major League Baseball has failed to be out in front of its own gambling story involving the highest-paid and most popular player in its sport, Moed says.

“The NBA response is the model of how [a sports entity] should handle this,” Moed says, “but MLB waited too long.” When it was revealed on March 21 that the interpreter for Los Angeles Dodgers superstar Shohei Ohtani had a gambling problem and may owe money to illegal bookmakers, the league initially said nothing. That silence was a big mistake, Moed says, because it harms the trust the league has established with fans, and chips away at the believability of the organization.

“MLB finally came out with a statement something like 3-5 days [later],” Moed says, “but by that point, the story had drifted into lies and confusion.” Indeed, Ippei Mizuhara, the man alleged to have placed bets using money he either borrowed or stole from Ohtani, had by that time given an interview and made statements that were at odds with each other.

“Major League Baseball didn’t look like they were in charge, nor were they taking action,” Moed says.

“If the most important person in your league has [potentially] committed a violation, you must come out and stand for your values. It felt like MLB was nervous, because [the incident] revolved around their star attraction.”

In the end, Ohtani may be completely innocent of any wrongdoing, a fact Moed pointed out in the interview, but the league seems to have failed in communicating its core values strongly and early enough. Because of that, as Moed says, “People can start to wonder if MLB or the investigation is hiding something.”

As Moed points out, it’s likely no accident that the NBA handled the Porter affair with such aplomb.

“Each league has a crisis plan in place,” Moed points out, “but you never know quite what will happen. That’s OK, because it’s more difficult to anticipate how it’s going to be handled. Here, the NBA was ready, because they clearly had a plan in place, were firm on their standard values, and followed a communication process.”


About the Author
Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes

Writer and Contributor
Dan Holmes is a veteran writer and contributor for Gaming Today. He has written three books, including The Ballplayers: Baseball’s Greatest Players Remembered, Ranked, and Revealed, which will be released in 2024. Holmes has previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball.

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