Ime Udoka’s suspension causes anger, speculation across the NBA

Benny Greenspan, Staff Reporter

Matthew Tate

After losing to the Golden State Warriors in six games in the NBA Finals, the Boston Celtics were heading into the 2022-2023 NBA season fully ready to get back to the finals with an improved and deeper roster. However, things quickly took a turn for the worst, when Adrian Wojnarowski reported after no previous context that Ime Udoka, the Celtics head coach, would face a year long suspension due to having a consensual relationship with a member of his staff.  

This not only caused a lot of panic and turmoil within the Celtics organization, but across the NBA and sports media. This is mainly due to the lack of transparency of what violations Udoka committed or the extent to which he violated them. While it was initially reported by Shams Charania that Udoka’s relationship with a female staff member was both “intimate and consensual”, recent reports have stated that Udoka made “unwanted comments towards her”

Speculations of there being more to the story only increased after the Celtics press conference regarding the suspension. Boston’s president of basketball operations Brad Stevens got emotional while discussing Udoka’s suspension and the negative consequences that have come to the female staff members of the Celtics since. In addition, Celtics governor Wyc Grousbeck stated that Udoka committed “multiple violations” against the team policy, further emphasizing the lack of clear information given to the public on the suspension. 

While the anonymity surrounding the suspension is one cause for the massive turmoil that has been viewed around this suspension, another reason is the timing. About a couple days earlier, the NBA suspended Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver for a year due to both the use of racial slurs as well as harassment done to women in the workplace. These charges and backlash over the suspension would later lead to Sarver choosing to sell the team. 

The idea that the same punishment that is given to racist and misogynistic behavior would be given to someone in a consensual relationship further elevated the frustration surrounding both the Udoka suspension and the NBA, as well as caused more speculation surrounding Udoka. 

As the Celtics enter training camp under interim coach Joe Mazzula, the shadow of Ime Udoka and the actions that caused his suspension will loom throughout the duration of the season, as more news will inevitably leak, shedding light on both Udoka and the NBA as a whole.

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