Adrian Wojnarowski Jontay Porter ESPN Screen grab: ESPN

All things considered, the NBA’s decision to issue a lifetime ban to Toronto Raptors forward Jontay Porter for gambling on the league qualifies as a massive story. After all, it’s not every day that the NBA — or any major league, for that matter — bans a player for life as the result of allegations that include betting against his own team.

So it was surprising that it took ESPN more than an hour to acknowledge the news, which was first broken by the network’s own Adrian Wojnarowski. Despite Wojnarowki first reporting the lifetime ban on X (formerly Twitter) at 12:16 p.m. ET on Wednesday, ESPN didn’t discuss the news on its own airwaves until just after 2 p.m. ET, with SportsCenter bringing the NBA insider on for a live hit.

What took so long?

As noted by Awful Announcing owner/editor in chief Ben Koo, ESPN’s decommissioning of ESPNews has left the outlet less versatile in breaking news situations. Between the decrease in manpower and institutional knowledge, ESPN is simply less agile when the time calls to pivot from previous plans.

While studio shows like Get Up and First Take often incorporate breaking news stories into their segments, ESPN has proven less capable of doing so in the afternoon. That rings especially true from 12-2 p.m. ET — as was the case on Wednesday — when ESPN airs The Pat McAfee Show, which it leases out of Indianapolis.

Wednesday’s episode of PMS was jampacked, featuring interviews with Caitlin Clark and Bill Belichick. Still, there was plenty of time between 12:16 p.m. and 2 p.m. for McAfee to at least make note of Porter’s suspension to his viewers, which he ultimately never did.

That’s not necessarily on McAfee — few people, if any, tune into his show to learn about breaking news. But it was somewhat jarring for a story as big as Porter’s lifetime ban to not be mentioned on ESPN airwaves until nearly two hours after it was first reported.

Perhaps that’s a sign that the times are changing; after all, plenty of people were still able to learn about Porter’s lifetime ban in the time between it first being reported and ESPN mentioning it on its airwaves. But as the network’s clunky coverage of the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl parade shooting showed, breaking news no longer appears to be a priority for the Worldwide Leader, at least not when it comes to television.

[Awful Announcing on X]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.