ESPN commentator Stephen Smith was livid Friday over the season-long suspension handed out to Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka.
A report in ESPN on Thursday, citing sources it did not name, said Udoka was punished for having a relationship with a member of the NBA team’s staff. ESPN said that the relationship violated organizational rules.
Smith said that Udoka was being punished for conduct that draws no punishment when committed by whites.
“I don’t see nothing being put out and disseminated to the masses about these white dudes that’s doing this stuff. I know plenty of white dudes that was screwing around while they … executives or coaches or anything like that,” he said in a clip posted to YouTube.
In a clip posted to Twitter, he accused team officials of leaking information to the media that should have been kept private.
Stephen A Smith on Ime Udoka situation “there’s plenty of white folks out there doing their thing, I don’t see the information out about them” pic.twitter.com/xtGDudfPPh
— Gifdsports (@gifdsports) September 22, 2022
“I don’t appreciate that being done to a brother. Because I’ve 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,” he said.
“I don’t see the information out about them. Why we talking about this now? We got to talk about it because it’s the news,” he said.
Smith said the issue was handled poorly.
“Ain’t none of our damn business, unless you fire him. But if you keep him, it’s none of our business. It should never have been put out there by the Celtics organization,” he said.
“And don’t tell me you didn’t do it because you absolutely did it. Because news reporters got it, so it emanated out of Boston. Somebody in LA or Utah or something leaking this stuff about the Boston Celtics? This is on y’all. It shouldn’t have been out here. That’s what I have to say,” he said.
On Friday, team owner Wyc Grousbeck said the suspension was decided upon after an independent law firm’s investigation revealed Udoka broke several team policies, according to ESPN.
“I am concerned about the situation and its impact on everybody in the Celtics’ organization. I do hope this represents the beginning of a new chapter, and a chance to turn the page and move forward with things, to some extent, resolved,” he said.
Grousbeck did not cite the reason for the suspension.
Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens touched on the details indirectly when he said, “we have a lot of talented women in our organization and I thought [Thursday] was really hard on them.
“Nobody can control Twitter speculation and rampant bulls–t, but I do think we as an organization have a responsibility to support them now, because a lot of people were dragged unfairly into that,” he said.
Udoka’s suspension comes with what Grousbeck called a “significant” financial penalty.
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