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

Former NBA forward Matt Barnes is backtracking on his criticism of the Boston Celtics for suspending head coach Ime Udoka over a reported affair with a female employee.

Barnes, 42, initially criticized the suspension decision on Thursday, only to reverse course on Friday when he learned ‘all the facts’, which he says are ‘100 times uglier than any of us thought’.

Udoka was suspended late on Thursday night for the upcoming 2022-23 season for ‘multiple’ breaches of team rules. ESPN, The Athletic and The Associated Press have since reported that Udoka had an inappropriate but consensual relationship with a female team employee.

However, Athletics raised questions about the relationship Thursday night, reporting that Udoka was accused by the woman of making ‘unsolicited comments’ to her, prompting the Celtics to launch internal interviews that ultimately led to his suspension.

Former NBA forward Matt Barnes backtracks on his criticism of the Boston Celtics for suspending head coach Ime Udoka over a reported affair with a female employee
Former NBA forward Matt Barnes backtracks on his criticism of the Boston Celtics for suspending head coach Ime Udoka over a reported affair with a female employee
Udoka was suspended late on Thursday night for the upcoming 2022-23 season for 'multiple' breaches of team rules.  ESPN, The Athletic and The Associated Press have since reported that Udoka had an inappropriate but consensual relationship with a female team employee
Udoka was suspended late on Thursday night for the upcoming 2022-23 season for 'multiple' breaches of team rules.  ESPN, The Athletic and The Associated Press have since reported that Udoka had an inappropriate but consensual relationship with a female team employee

Former NBA forward Matt Barnes backtracks on his criticism of the Celtics for suspending head coach Ime Udoka over a reported affair with a female employee

On Friday, Barnes explained in a self-recorded Instagram video that he deleted his earlier post criticizing the decision because he learned more information.

‘As I am part of the media now and I try not to be like everyone else – I try to report with facts and honesty – and I must say clearly, without knowing all the facts, I spoke about Ime Udoka’s defense, and after finding out the facts, after I spoke, I deleted what I posted because this situation in Boston is deep, it’s messed up, it’s 100 times uglier than any of us thought,’ Barnes told the camera while driving in his car.

‘And that’s why I deleted what I said. Some things happened that I cannot condone, I cannot support and it is not my place to tell you what happened. If it ends up coming out, it ends up coming out. But that’s why I deleted my post last night because after I posted it I got a call from someone who had all the details and the s*** is deep.’

Barnes went on to say that he hopes the blogs that picked up his initial post on the topic will see him back off on his criticism of the Celtics.

“I saw that a lot of blogs picked up on what I said even though it was only on the page for about two minutes, so hopefully they pick up on that too because I’m wrong and jumping out there without facts,” he said.

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

“I played in the league for a long time,” Barnes said. ‘Anybody in the league can tell you it’s 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 managers, to coaches, to players, to coaches, to therapists, to dancers, to PR ladies. It’s not uncommon.’

Udoka, the Celtics’ second-year head coach with a once-excellent reputation, was suspended Thursday for the entire upcoming season for “multiple” unspecified violations of team rules.

Reports say the 45-year-old had an inappropriate but consensual relationship with a female member of the team’s staff, but that hardly explains why Udoka will be sidelined for 2022-23, and potentially beyond. In the team statement naming assistant Joe Mazzulla as interim coach, Boston said Udoka’s future would be determined ‘at a later date.’

Boston Celtics legend Paul Pierce said Udoka should just be fined and not suspended
Boston Celtics legend Paul Pierce said Udoka should just be fined and not suspended

Boston Celtics legend Paul Pierce said Udoka should just be fined and not suspended

The situation is puzzling not only because Boston is sidelining a coach who guided the team to the NBA Finals in his first season, but also because the Celtics have turned an apparently private and reportedly consent into a public matter — something ESPN’s Stephen A Smith seized on Friday.

“My problem is you have his personal business published all over the airways,” Smith said, questioning why a suspension was necessary.

Celtics legend Paul Pierce also claimed on Twitter that Udoka’s punishment ‘should just be a fine, not a suspension.’

Further complicating matters is Udoka’s shady relationship with Long.

A report from Bally Sports claims the pair were ‘separated before the current issue’, 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 dancing at a party. when his Celtics qualified for the Finals.

Then there was Udoka’s own statement Thursday, which made a cryptic reference to disappointing loved ones: ‘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 a logical favorite to reach the Finals again and potentially compete for an NBA-record 18th championship.

Instead, Boston now faces leadership questions as Udoka struggles to save his once-promising career.

Stephen A. Smith was very upset with how the Celtics handled Ime Udoka's reported affair
Stephen A. Smith was very upset with how the Celtics handled Ime Udoka's reported affair

Stephen A. Smith was very upset with how the Celtics handled Ime Udoka’s reported affair

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