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Shrouding Ime Udoka’s suspension in mystery is unsustainable for Celtics

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BOSTON. If we learned anything from Friday’s press conference with Boston Celtics managing partner Vic Grosbeck and basketball president Brad Stevens, it’s that the situation with head coach Ima Udoka is untenable and cannot be swept under the carpet with an annual suspense.

Amid reports of alleged “inappropriate intimate and consensual relationships with a woman on the team” and accusations of “unwanted comments about herGrausbeck understandably cited “privacy reasons for the people involved” as a reason for not confirming these reports and not developing any substantive facts related to what they called “multiple violations” of the Udoka team’s policy.

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Udoka put the Celtics in a stalemate. They’ve imposed a suspension – which, by the way, they’re leaving indefinite – but they can’t adequately explain why they’re suspending him, so that cloud hangs over the team they trust the inexperienced 34-year-old assistant. in dispute.

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You can’t hit the pause button on a championship favorite and expect to pick up where you left off.

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Joe Mazzulla, appointed to lead the Celtics after only three years of his NBA coaching career, may well fulfill Boston’s championship promise despite the added burden of a “one-of-a-kind” scandal. What then? Do they fire Udoka after he serves his sentence? What if Mazzulla is overloaded?

These are the least of the franchise’s problems, and yet they threaten the overall purpose of the entire organization. According to Grausbeck, the players are “very concerned about this. This is an undesirable development.”

Boston Celtics assistant Joe Mazzulla (left) will serve as interim head coach during Ime Udoka's one-year suspension.  (Elsa/Getty Images)
Boston Celtics assistant Joe Mazzulla (left) will serve as interim head coach during Ime Udoki’s one-year suspension. (Elsa/Getty Images)

“To think that the guys on the team, the coaches or anyone else in the organization will be back on the court and everything will be fine, that’s just not the case,” Stevens said of the change of course the week before training camp. “This is a very, very difficult situation, but we are going to focus on resolving everything we need to do to ensure that everyone is ready to go on Tuesday when we start the new season, and I believe that it will be, but I am not going to ignore the fact that human emotions are involved.”

These emotions permeate the entire organization. There is no solution that would satisfy everyone. Udoka might take offense at the nature of his sanctions, no matter how “acceptable” Groesbeck said they were. Players, coaches, and front office staff may agree with him, lose respect for him, or fall somewhere in between. All this pales in comparison to the message it sends to the franchisees.

Celtics management expressed regret and anger at the “Twitter speculation and rampant bulls***” that “unwittingly and inappropriately drew public attention to female Celtics members in the hours between the initial reports of Udoka violations and the team’s cryptic response to It. Stevens nearly burst into tears as he recounted how Thursday “was very hard for them.” This is about Udoka, and the Celtics’ failure to properly explain the situation publicly means the speculation, as horrific as it is, will not go away.

It is naive to think that more details will not leak out. The Celtics couldn’t last a night without the details of the “thorough and impartial investigation” that was completed on Wednesday leaking to the media. Friday’s press conference was barely over before the former NBA player took over as commentator Matt Barnes went to Instagramapologizing for standing up for Udoka and making veiled references to the worst wrongdoings.

“Last night, without knowing all the facts, I spoke in defense of Ime Udoki,” Barnes said, “and after I found out the facts after I spoke, I erased what I posted because this situation is in Boston. deep, confusing, it’s a hundred times uglier than either of us thought… Some things have happened that I can’t forgive, I can’t undo.”

If Barnes already knows the fuller version, how soon will it be in the NBA and released to the public? It is hard to imagine what could have served as a basis for a one-year disqualification, and not Udoka’s dismissal. It is just as hard to take Growsbeck’s word that “it is entirely justified and appropriate.”

“It seemed right,” he said 48 hours after becoming aware of the extent of it, “but there are no clear guidelines for any of this. It’s really conscience and intuition and the fact that I’ve been here for 20 years. I am ultimately responsible for the decision, although I have taken a lot of advice from partners like Brad and others. We collectively came to this and achieved it, but it was not clear what to do. It was clear that something significant had to be done, and it was done.”

He may well be sincere, but how can the public trust the Celtics if they can’t even tell us if they consider Udoka’s behavior to be sexual harassment or harm to other employees?

“I don’t have the opportunity to go into the conclusions of our legal analysis,” Groesbeck said.

Even Udoka’s absence is shrouded in mystery. They have not disclosed the terms of his suspension and have not made decisions about what criteria he must meet in order to return. In the same breath, Groesbeck said the suspension would last until June 30, 2023. On another, he said: “We won’t talk about the long term because nothing has been decided yet … and we will make a decision soon.” later about Yime’s future with us.”

All of this gives the impression that the Celtics were overwhelmed by the depth of the revelations in the investigation, or the speed of the leaks, or both. It’s like they’re waiting while they negotiate Udoka’s departure because press day is Monday and the clouds over Boston won’t clear up anytime soon.

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Ben Rohrbach is a staff writer for Sportzshala Sports. Any advice? Email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach


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