Stephen A. Smith Blames Race for Ime Udoka Scandal

Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka is currently embroiled in a scandal after having a consensual relationship with a team employee. The coach now faces a possible full-season suspension by the team, and at least one prominent NBA figure – ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith — thinks there is a racial component to all this.

Stephen A. Smith thinks race is a major factor in the Ime Udoka scandal

After news broke (more on that below) that Celtics coach Ime Udoka is facing a year suspension for a consensual relationship with a Celtics employee, all the sports show talking heads chimed in Thursday morning with their takes.

What was Stephen A. Smith’s opinion on First Take? The prominent basketball pundit says the whole thing is all about race. Smith went on a rant about the situation:

[Why’s] that being done to a brother? Because I got news for you, America. There’s plenty of white folks in professional sports that’s doing their thing. And I say that not complimentary. I don’t see the information out about them. Why we talking about this now? … Ain’t none of our damn business unless you fire him. But if you keep him, it’s none of our business. It should have never been put out there by the Celtics organization.

Stephen A. Smith on the Ime Udoku scandal

After sharing these thoughts, Smith went after the Celtics organization. Speaking directly to the organization, Stephen A. bellowed, “don’t tell me you didn’t [leak the story] because you absolutely did it! Because news reporters got it. So, it emanated out of Boston.”

This story is just beginning, and with a Black head coach facing an unprecedented suspension for something non-basketball-related, questions of race are going to come up. And that’s especially true because it’s happening in a city like Boston, which has a complicated history with Black athletes.

How news of the Boston Celtics scandal broke

Late at night on the East Coast on Wednesday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news that Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka made “an unspecified violation organizational guidelines” and faced a possible “significant suspension.”

The story grew from there as Woj continued to report more details. In his next tweet, the reporter revealed, “Ime Udoka’s job isn’t believed to be in jeopardy, but a suspension is looming.”

Around 10:00 am ET, Woj revealed what we currently know as the full story. The Woj Bomb here was, “Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka is likely facing a suspension for the entire 2022-2023 season for his role in a consensual relationship with a female staff member, sources tell ESPN.”

Wojnarowski then shared his story on SportsCenter, discussing how, “in recent days,” Celtics executive Brad Stevens found out about the improper relationship” with a female member of the organization. Woj also says that this relationship involving Udoka — who is engaged and has one child with actor Nia Long — led to “a break down in trust, in judgment, in Udoka’s leadership, that led to this predicted “unprecedented penalty.”

This is a developing story. More about the exact details of the suspension will come out soon. As will statements and interviews directly with Stevens and the Celtic as well as Udoka at some point.

UPDATE: At approximately 9:30 pm ET on Thursday night, the Boston Celtics announced that Ime Udoka is indeed suspended for the entire 2022-23 season, effective immediately, per ESPN.

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