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Stephen A. Smith RIPS Celtics for ‘leaking news of Ime Udoka’s looming year-long ban’

Ime Udoka’s alleged affair with a Boston Celtics employee is not the public’s business, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said Thursday, adding that the team’s handling of his reported looming suspension reveals a racial double standard.

Udoka, who led Boston to the NBA Finals in his first year with the club last season, faces a likely year-long suspension for a consensual but inappropriate affair with an as-yet-unidentified female member of the team’s staff, according to ESPN and Athletics.

“I’ve got news for you America: There are plenty of white people in professional sports doing their thing,” Smith said in response to the news about Udoka, who is African-American. ‘And I don’t say that for free. I can’t see the information about them.

‘[I] can’t count the amount of fraternization, or dare I say more, that goes on in virtually every organization in the NBA, NFL and MLB – people get together, they work together, it happens all the time.’

Smith also questioned the choice to leak information about a private affair between two consenting adults.

‘Why are we talking about this now?’ Smith asked rhetorically. ‘We have to talk about it because it’s the news. It’s none of our damn business unless you fire him.’

Ime Udoka's alleged affair with a Boston Celtics employee is not the public's business, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said Thursday, adding that the team's handling of his reported looming suspension reveals a racial double standard.
Ime Udoka's alleged affair with a Boston Celtics employee is not the public's business, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said Thursday, adding that the team's handling of his reported looming suspension reveals a racial double standard.

Ime Udoka’s alleged affair with a Boston Celtics employee is not the public’s business, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said Thursday, adding that the team’s handling of his reported looming suspension reveals a racial double standard.

Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka could face a potential suspension days before the start of this year's NBA season for violating team rules with a penalty yet to be determined.
Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka could face a potential suspension days before the start of this year's NBA season for violating team rules with a penalty yet to be determined.
Udoka is engaged to actress Nia Long (left), who gave birth to the couple's son in 2015
Udoka is engaged to actress Nia Long (left), who gave birth to the couple's son in 2015

Udoka is engaged to actress Nia Long, who gave birth to the couple’s son in 2015

And if the Celtics don’t fire him?

“But if you keep him, it’s none of our business,” Smith continued, blaming the Celtics for the leaked news about Udoka. ‘It should never have been put out there by the Celtics organization – and don’t tell me you didn’t. Because you absolutely did — because news reporters did. So it emanated from Boston. Ain’t nobody in LA or Utah or anything leaking this stuff about the Boston Celtics. This is on you all. It shouldn’t have been out here. That’s what I have to say.’

Smith isn’t the only media personality taking aim at Boston for allegedly preparing a year-long suspension for Udoka. Veteran sportswriter Howard Bryant referenced former Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson’s years-long romantic relationship with team co-owner Jeanie Buss, both of whom are white.

“Don’t know what’s coming down from the Celtics, or the degree of impropriety (if any),” Bryant tweeted. ‘Maybe it’s something. Maybe it’s nothing. I’m just glad Phil Jackson and Jeanie Buss kept it professional.’

Buss and Jackson split in 2016 while he was working for the New York Knicks.

Smith isn't the only media personality taking aim at Boston for allegedly preparing a year-long suspension for Udoka.  Veteran sportswriter Howard Bryant referenced former Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson's years-long romantic relationship with team co-owner Jeanie Buss, both of whom are white
Smith isn't the only media personality taking aim at Boston for allegedly preparing a year-long suspension for Udoka.  Veteran sportswriter Howard Bryant referenced former Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson's years-long romantic relationship with team co-owner Jeanie Buss, both of whom are white

Smith isn’t the only media personality taking aim at Boston for allegedly preparing a year-long suspension for Udoka. Veteran sportswriter Howard Bryant referenced former Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson’s years-long romantic relationship with team co-owner Jeanie Buss, both of whom are white

Buss (right) and Jackson (left) split in 2016 while he was working for the New York Knicks
Buss (right) and Jackson (left) split in 2016 while he was working for the New York Knicks

Buss (right) and Jackson (left) split in 2016 while he was working for the New York Knicks

Udoka has been engaged to actress Nia Long for years and the pair have a son together, but Bally Sports have reported that the pair are believed to have already split. It remains exactly when their relationship ended.

Smith had some criticism for Udoka on Thursday.

“This is a stupid, stupid situation for him to be in,” Smith said. “There is no excuse for him to find himself in this position.”

Team spokesmen did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.

Udoka’s top assistant, Will Hardy, left Boston to become the head coach of the Utah Jazz, leaving current Celtics assistant Joe Mazzulla as the interim coach for Udoka’s suspension, according to ESPN. Of course, Stevens has experience coaching the team, but it’s unclear if he’s willing to return to the bench after moving up to the front office.

Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix has also named former Lakers and Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel as another potential interim coach,

The pair were 'believed to have separated prior to the issue at hand', according to Bally Sports' Brandon Robinson
The pair were 'believed to have separated prior to the issue at hand', according to Bally Sports' Brandon Robinson

The pair were ‘believed to have separated prior to the issue at hand’, according to Bally Sports’ Brandon Robinson

He has considered potentially stepping down, Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix reported
He has considered potentially stepping down, Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix reported

He has considered potentially stepping down, Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix reported

The Celtics will hold a media day on Monday before opening training camp on Tuesday. Their first preseason game is at home against the Charlotte Hornets on October 2nd. Boston opens their regular season slate on Oct. 18 at home against the 76ers.

Udoka was named head coach of the Boston Celtics at the start of the 2021–22 season after former head coach Brad Stevens was promoted to President of Basketball Operations.

In his first season as head coach, Udoka compiled a 51-31 record and guided the Celtics to an Atlantic Division regular season title.

Udoka then helped lead Boston all the way to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010, where they fell to the Golden State Warriors in six games.

Prior to coaching with the Celtics, Udoka spent eight seasons as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs under head coach Gregg Popovich, helping win an NBA title in 2014.

Udoka left San Antonio in 2019 and moved to the Philadelphia 76ers. The following season, he became an assistant coach with the Brooklyn Nets.

He was then hired as the head coach of the Celtics, becoming the fifth black head coach in team history.

A native of Portland, Udoka played at Portland State before a journeyman career that took him from low-level independent leagues to Europe and eventually the NBA, where he carved out bench roles with the Spurs. He also had brief stints with the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Portland Trail Blazers and Sacramento Kings.

Udoka's top assistant, Will Hardy (right), left Boston to become head coach of the Utah Jazz, leaving current Celtics assistant Joe Mazzulla (left) as a potential fill-in for Boston if Udoka is suspended for a significant amount of time. according to ESPN
Udoka's top assistant, Will Hardy (right), left Boston to become head coach of the Utah Jazz, leaving current Celtics assistant Joe Mazzulla (left) as a potential fill-in for Boston if Udoka is suspended for a significant amount of time. according to ESPN

Udoka’s top assistant, Will Hardy (right), left Boston to become head coach of the Utah Jazz, leaving current Celtics assistant Joe Mazzulla (left) as a potential fill-in for Boston if Udoka is suspended for a significant amount of time. according to ESPN

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