"Watching these last few days unfold has been heartbreaking" - Boston Celtics reporter on Ime Udoka scandal
'This is a step backwards for women in sports who have worked hard to prove themselves in an industry they deserve to be in.'
Having led the Boston Celtics to the NBA Finals, earlier this year, Ime Udoka will now have to look on as his players try to go one step further without him.
The Celtics released a short statement late on Wednesday that confirmed that Udoka was being suspended for the 2022/23 season for 'violations of team policies'. Two well-sourced NBA reporters, with the Athletic and ESPN, then reported that Udoka had an 'improper consensual relationship' with a female member of the Celtics staff.
The former assistant coach to the Spurs, 76ers and Nets shared a brief statement to ESPN’s Malika Andrews. It read:
'I want to apologise to our players, fans, the entire Celtics organisation, and my family for letting them down. I am sorry for putting the team in this difficult situation, and I accept the team’s decision. Out of respect for everyone involved, I will have no further comment.'
Once it was reported that there had been this relationship with a Celtics staffer, social media was rife with salacious gossip, speculation and unfounded accusations that dragged in the names, and reputations, of several female Boston Celtics employees.
"There was the sordid side to social media," said Bill Simmons on his popular podcast. "This continues to happen and it is the worst we have to offer of the message-board and Twitter era. People sleuthing, posting pictures of employees and doing the guessing game, and the rumour mill going around. It was really awful."
A decision was taken by the NBA franchise to not name the woman involved. As noble as those intentions were, it led to many female Celtics staffers to be named in irresponsible speculation across social media platforms. One such staffer was Celtics' in-house reporter Amanda Pflugrad.
Amanda Pflugrad on 'heartbreaking few days'
Former CBS reporter Amanda Pflugrad, who now works for the Boston Celtics, found her own name being thrown out there on message boards and on social media posts and threads. On Friday, she post the following statement on her Instagram and Twitter accounts:
'As a female of the Celtics organization (sic), watching these last few days unfold has been heartbreaking. Seeing uninvolved people's names thrown around in the media, including mine, with such carelessness is disgusting. This is a step backwards for women in sports who have worked hard to prove themselves in an industry they deserve to be in.'
As they head towards the new NBA season, the Boston Celtics will be coached by Ime Udoka's assistant Joe Mazzulla.
At a Friday press briefing Celtics majority owner Wyc Grousbeck told reporters that a lengthy investigation found a 'volume of violations' against the 45-year-old head coach. Udoka has been seeing actress Nia Long for over a decade and the couple have a 10-year-old son together.
He led the Celtics to the NBA Finals and into a 2-1 lead, in the best of seven series, before Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors rallied to win 4-2.
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