Stephen A. Smith has criticized the Boston Celtics’ handling of Ime Udoka as he believes the team shouldn’t have leaked details of his year-long suspension if they wanted to keep him on board.
Udoka was officially suspended from the team on Thursday for violating team policy after he was reportedly in a consensual relationship with a staff member.
And while reports of Udoka’s actions and a possible suspension leaked out on Wednesday, Smith believes the woman involved should also be named and that Udoka should not be retained as coach in the circumstances.
“Incredibly disappointed today,” Smith said on ESPN’s First Take Friday. ‘Ime Udoka cannot be defended. His actions were outrageous, irresponsible for the leadership position he is in. I’m not here to offer excuses or apologies for his behavior. It’s inexcusable, it’s a fireable offense as far as I’m concerned.
“But it doesn’t negate what the Celtics are doing here. According to your reports [ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski], and what we’ve been talking about for the last few days, that was a consensual relationship. Was Ime Udoka busy with himself? The answer to that is no. Two consenting adults involved in, or involved in, these acts that clearly violated Boston Celtics policy.
“But all we hear is Ime and to [owner] I would urge Wyc Grousbeck, whom I respect deeply, to perhaps speak to a publicist or take classes himself. Because he dropped some bombs here because of Ime Udoka.
Smith went on to say that suspending Udoka — especially as the Celtics said they would make a decision on the coach’s future “at a later date” — would “ruin his career for the next few years” and continued not to criticize the Celtics keeping the information internal, or at least trying to.
“At this particular point in time… Ime Udoka is a non-employable person. But the unsellable part, I would argue, is primarily due to the fact that the story was leaked and we are now discussing it publicly.
“The woman who has chosen to have a consensual relationship with him does not offend him [of team policy]? He is mentioned and put on Front Street – we don’t know who she is.
“What about the other women in the Celtics organization who have been victims because of wrong assumptions being made? [about] your engagement? If you knew exactly who it was, it would allay the concerns of all the other women whose names were floating around on the streets. What’s up with them?
According to The Athletic, some members of the Celtics found out about Udoka’s relationship in July and team leaders were initially tricked into believing the relationship was consensual.
However, sources told the publication that the woman recently accused Udoka of making unwanted comments towards her, prompting the team to launch internal interviews.
Joe Mazulla, a 34-year-old who served as Celtics assistant last year, will be the caretaker manager for the 2022-23 season.