When Boston Celtics suspended head coach Ime Udoka for the entire 2022-2023, the initial reason given was that Udoka acted in “violation of team policies.”
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) September 23, 2022
That cryptic announcement caused many observers to cry foul, including former NBA player and ESPN analyst Matt Barnes, who said via social media that the Celtics made a “terrible decision.”
#ImeUdoka has been suspended for the entire season after it was revealed that he had an “improper intimate and consensual relationship with a female member of the team staff.” Now #MattBarnes is sharing his thoughts on the whole matter. read more at https://t.co/NgmfaFQdbz pic.twitter.com/DaUG1J5IQ1
— Theeshaderoomed (@Theeshaderoomed) September 23, 2022
But today, team owner Wyc Grousbeck elaborated on the Udoka incident. According to The New York Times, Grousback told an unidentified person that Udoka had an “inappropriate relationship with a female team employee.”
He added that the team hired an independent “law firm to conduct an impartial investigation” after learning about the allegations over the summer.
Grousbeck added that the suspension is “well-warranted and appropriate and backed by substantial research and facts.” And it comes with a “significant financial penalty.”
A Huge Turn of Events
The stunning revelation caused many, such as Barnes, to do a pick and roll.
He took to Instagram tonight to air his thoughts and drop a few bombshells of his own.
“Last night, without knowing all the facts, I spoke on Ime Udoka’s defense, and after finding out the facts after I spoke, I erased what I posted because this situation in Boston is deep, it’s messy, it’s 100 times uglier than any of us thought Barnes said.
He added that some insider information had also informed his decision: “I got a call from someone who ran all the details and shit is deep. Praying for everyone involved, hope everyone gets through this.”
Adding to the chaos, many have scrambled to identify the female reporter in question, causing Amanda Pflugard, a Celtics Team Reporter, to speak up.
“Seeing uninvolved people’s names thrown around in the media, including mine, with such carelessness is disgusting,” she tweeted.
— Amanda_Pflugrad (@Amanda_Pflugrad) September 23, 2022
Grousbeck also came to his employees’ defense.
“It is really unfortunate that female staff members have been drug into the public eye unwillingly, and we regret this, and it’s unfortunate. I won’t be referring to anyone else that might be involved for privacy reasons,” he said.
Who is Ime Udoka?
Udoka, 45, became head coach of the Celtics last year. After the team started the season under .500, Udoka oversaw a turnaround that led them to the NBA Finals for the first time in 12 years. He is the fifth coach in the past 25 years to reach the NBA Finals in his rookie season.
As for the incident, Udoka has publicly apologized, saying in a statement, “I am sorry for putting the team in this difficult situation, and I accept the team’s decision. Out of respect for everyone involved, I will have no further comment.”
Complicating matters, Udoka is engaged to actress Nia Long. The couple had a son together in 2011.
Asked to comment, Long told People, “The outpouring of love and support from family, friends, and the community during this difficult time means so much to me.”