Monday, October 3, 2022

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Ex-NBA star Matt Barnes warns Ime Udoka scandal is ‘100 times uglier than any of us thought’

Retired NBA forward Matt Barnes has backed away from criticizing the Boston Celtics for suspending head coach Ime Udoka over an alleged affair with an unidentified employee, saying the truth behind the scandal is far worse than the public White.

Barnes, 42, originally slammed the suspension on Thursday, only to reverse course on Friday when he learned the “all the facts,” which he says are “100 times uglier than any of us thought.” .

Udoka was banned late Thursday night for the upcoming 2022-23 season for “multiple” team rule violations involving a single female team member. ESPN, The Athletic and The Associated Press have since reported that Udoka had an improper but consensual relationship with the woman.

However, The Athletic raised questions about the relationship Thursday night, reporting that Udoka was accused by the woman of making “unwelcome comments” towards her, prompting the Celtics to launch internal interviews that ultimately led to his suspension.

On Friday, Barnes explained in a self-made Instagram video that he had deleted his previous post criticizing the decision because he had received more information.

“As I am now a part of the media and trying not to be like everyone else – I try to report with facts and honesty – and I must say unequivocally that without knowing all the facts I spoke in Ime Udoka’s defence , and after I got the facts, after I spoke, I deleted what I posted because this situation in Boston is profound, messy, and 100 times uglier than any of us realised,” Barnes said to the camera, while driving his car.

“And that’s why I deleted what I said. Some things have happened that I cannot condone, that I cannot reciprocate, and it is not my place to tell you what happened. If it comes out in the end, it comes out in the end. But that was the reason I deleted my post last night because after I posted it I got a call from someone who had all the details and the sh*** is deep.

Barnes went on to say that he hopes blogs picking up on his initial post on the subject will see him retract his criticism of the Celtics.

“I’ve seen a lot of blogs pick up on what I said even though it was only like two minutes on the page, so hopefully they’ll pick up on that too, because I was wrong and jumped out without the facts,” he said .

Barnes had a very different take on Thursday, saying affairs are commonplace in professional sports franchises.

“I played in the league for a long time,” Barnes said. “Anyone in the league could tell you this is a very common situation. This is not new news to people who have been in the league or around organizations. I’ve seen it from owners to executives, coaches, players, coaches, therapists, dancers and PR ladies. That’s not unusual.’

Udoka, the Celtics’ sophomore head coach with a once-stellar reputation, was suspended for the entirety of the upcoming season on Thursday for “multiple” unspecified team rule violations.

The 45-year-old was reportedly in an inappropriate but consensual relationship with a female team member, but that hardly explains why Udoka is sidelined for 2022-23 and possibly longer. In the team statement appointing assistant Joe Mazzulla as interim coach, Boston said Udoka’s future would be decided “at a later date”.

The situation is confusing, not only because Boston is pausing a coach who guided the team to the NBA Finals in its first season, but also because the Celtics have turned what was supposedly a private and supposedly consensual relationship into a public affair — something the Stephen A Smith grabbed Friday.

“My problem is that you have published his personal affairs in all airways,” Smith said while wondering why a suspension was necessary.

Celtics legend Paul Pierce also argued on Twitter that Udoka’s punishment “should only be a fine and not a suspension.”

Another complication is Udoka’s somber relationship with Long.

A report from Bally Sports claims the couple “broke up before the current edition,” but the two appeared to be on good terms as recently as May, when the former Fresh Prince of Bel-Air tweeted a video of himself in a pose danced in celebration as his Celtics qualified for the finals.

Then there was Udoka’s own statement on Thursday, which included a cryptic reference to his loved ones’ disappointment: “I want to apologize to our players, fans, the entire Celtics organization and my family for letting them down.”

The Celtics should open training camp on Tuesday as the logical favorite to reach the Finals again and potentially compete for a record 18th NBA championship.

Instead, Boston now faces leadership issues while Udoka struggles to salvage his once-promised career.

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