Can House of Strauss Public Relations escape a long suspension?
Counter-Proposal: Ja Morant, 2A hero
"As is my Constitutional right, I occasionally carry a gun, which I have a license for, for my personal protection. Along with the majority of South Carolina (where I was born) residents, I do not believe the government should impose additional restrictions on the purchase of firearms.
I do regret that the short clip taken of me on IG Live made it appear as though I take the responsibility of gun ownership lightly. A gun is not a toy or a prop or something that should be used for 'street cred.' I shoot my gun at the range, and enjoy hunting as a pastime. I believe that, as I have been properly trained in how to use a handgun, I will be able to defend myself in situations where I would otherwise not be able to -- situations I do not believe and sincerely hope will never present themselves, but situations that I nevertheless feel it is important to be prepared for.
I regret that I appeared to handle my weapon irresponsibly, apologize for doing so, and will accept any punishment the league or the Grizzlies organization feels is appropriate. What I do not regret is that I am a proud American gun owner, and would love to educate Americans both young and old on the responsible handling of firearms to repay part of the debt I owe my fans and the community at large."
"We live in a systemically racist society, especially here in the South. I carry reasonable protection to keep myself and my loved ones safe."
No, that is making a similar mistake to the Aaron Rodgers "immunized" controversy. Rodgers tried to appease people by mincing words to make it seem like he was meeting people's expectations (to be vaccinated) and when they found out he wasn't, people were enraged. The better DADD move would be to have said, "The team and the league know my status. I am not sharing my private health information." Or even better, "No I'm not vaccinated." The subtext of either being "I'm not vaccinated, get over it."
In that spirit, Ja Morant saying it was a fake gun and he was just kidding around sounds very much like he is trying to appease people with what seems like BS, as Rodgers did. The DADD move here is to say, "The rules say I can't possess a weapon while on NBA related business or properties. I didn't realize that extended to the car." This is the kind of "sorry, not sorry" that concedes breaking the rules but doesn't actually admit guilt about the ethics of the underlying conduct and leaves open further gun flashing in borderline/gray area situations. The subtext is "fine I'll play by your rules if money is on the line but ultimately I'm not afraid of you, I do what I want, get over it." That's how you stare down the mountain lion, you don't provoke it, but you don't act like you're scared either.
What rule did he actually break? Or is more of a "don't make the nba look bad" kind of thing? There's no obvious sign that it's an illegal gun. If he broke a law, let the legal system deal with it. This is the lifestyle that's advocated in lots of music that is played in nba arenas. I'm not saying this is a good thing or that the NBA should do nothing but I hate this assumption that everyone knows what exactly he did wrong and how to think about this issue in a country where the right to own a gun is fundamental
Apologies for broaching a tangential issue, but I feel the media and league is partly to blame for this re-offense by attributing Ja’s previous behavior as a consequence of a mental health problem. Not only does this deny agency in the wrongdoer, but it is an extremely infantilizing and paternalistic perspective of the cause of poor behavior.
I recommend listening to Shannon Sharpe’s analysis of the issue on first take, as well as Bricc Baby’s sober perspective provided below.
“I did not realize how strident the NBA is against gun ownership and gun idolatry. We have had NBA players in John Wick movies and ex-NBA players around guns in many other movies. Hoping to have a career in pop culture, and possibly the movies, following my NBA career, I now see why it would be best to keep away from fictional personas I may wish to pursue with future endeavors. I promise to do better.”
-HoS PR script
2019 paper collects data, performs experiment about DADD:
Title: Does apologizing work? An empirical test of the conventional wisdom
Abstract: Public figures often apologize after making controversial statements. There are reasons to believe, however, that apologizing makes public figures appear weak and risk averse, which may make them less likeable and lead members of the public to want to punish them. This paper presents the results of an experiment in which respondents were given two versions of two real-life controversies involving public figures. Approximately half of the participants read a story that made it appear as if the person had apologized, while the rest were led to believe that the individual had stood firm. In the first experiment, hearing that Rand Paul apologized for his comments on civil rights did not change whether respondents were less likely to vote for him. When presented with two versions of the controversy surrounding Larry Summers and his comments about women scientists and engineers, however, liberals and females were more likely to say that he should have faced negative consequences for his statement when presented with his apology. The effects on other groups were smaller or neutral. The evidence suggests that when a prominent figure apologizes for a controversial statement, individuals are either unaffected or become more likely to desire that the individual be punished.
I get most of my news from Andscape.com who claim that Ja Morant was inspired by Kyle Rittenhouse and George Zimmerman (https://andscape.com/features/the-ja-morant-gun-situation-is-not-just-about-ja-morant/).
So I guess I'd just double down and say he heard there were some pedophiles in the neighboring town trying to burn down some small businesses.
If you are going to counsel Ja to claim that the gun was not a gun then you best be very, very sure that no one can "prove" otherwise. That is way, way too risky imo (it's very likely that some gun nut will be able to identify some characteristic from a blown up photo that shows its a real gun imo) and as a long term litigator I'll cop to being very prone to cynicism but trotting out a "it wasn't a real gun" defense seems like a losing argument (google "straight face test") unless you only need to convince a couple of seven year old Ja fans plus Chris Vernon.
I would think the league is mulling 20 game or 40 game or full season suspension. I'd bet they give him 40. I don't believe any PR beyond an abject apology will influence the punishment.
Ethan you need to write about Becky Hammon's DADD masterclass
Sorry, I don't think telling an obviously false lie about filming a music video when he was listening to NBA Youngboy in the car is a brilliant PR strategy. Maybe it's not provably false, but this isn't a court of law, it's PR.
I think Jah's statement released after this article was published is pretty good. He expresses some regret, but is vague and admits no actual transgression. It serves him to say as little as possible and let things blow over. Jah should know that the suspension is meaningless beyond PR until it costs him money. I agree that apologizing wholeheartedly just brings more attention, but this kind of non apology, vague statement seems like an effective strategy.
I think it's likely Jah will continue to make poor PR decisions, but there's not much that can stop that beyond Jah. He makes too much money already. The All-NBA supermax loss this year costs him about $8 million a year, but he's already making about $40 million a year over the life of his NBA contract plus a huge longterm Nike deal. He's already the butt of Druski and IG jokes. Nike is probably within its rights now to nix the Nike deal with a character, reputation clause, but they're sticking with him and still airing Jah commercials. Unless Jah is charged with a crime that threatens the NBA and Nike money he doesn't really have a strong incentive to change if he doesn't want to change.
I like the HoS solution because it recognizes a key dynamic working in Morant’s favor: none of the principals have any incentive whatsoever to prove him wrong. Nike, the NBA, and the Grizzlies would all gleefully pretend to believe the gun was a prop if they could get away with it.
I’m certain they won’t go out of their way to confirm that the gun was fake. Even if they later found out Ja lied, they might not even tell the press. They’re focused on revenues and reputation rather than Ja Morant’s safety and well-being, after all.
The only problem is that too much time has gone by since the incident for this to work. If the gun really was a prop, you’d expect him to say so almost immediately while mocking the media for fake news. So much time has gone by that this story no longer seems credible. All the key constituencies will lose face if they purport to believe a story that strains credulity quite so much.
Dwight Howard isn't exactly "PR Goals," but a quick reminder that he never got in trouble for guns despite being armed TO THE TEETH: https://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/dwight-howard-is-the-proud-owner-of-20-snakes-and-50-guns/
Ethan Sherwood Strauss PR firm motto - We lie for you.
Don't forget to narrate an article like this! I had to learn the highlights via someone's tweet :)