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Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka reportedly facing a suspension for having an intimate relationship with a female staffer within the organization upset sports personality Stephen A. Smith on Thursday.
Reports of Udoka potentially being suspended for the season over it broke between late Wednesday and early Thursday. Smith on ESPN’s “First Take” gave a passionate defense of Udoka, saying there were “plenty of White folks in professional sports doing their thing — and I say that not complimentary.”
He accused the Celtics of putting information “out there.”
Stephen A. Smith looks on before a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics at TD Garden in Boston on Nov. 19, 2021. (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Smith continued: “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. Ain’t none of our damn business unless you fire him. But if you keep him, it’s none of our business. It should’ve never been put out there by the Celtics organization. And don’t tell me you didn’t do it because you absolutely did it because news reporters got it, and it emanated out of Boston.”
Later in the show, Smith suggested the information about Udoka was “being put out” because of his race.
“I’m appalled by this decision. If you’re not going to fire him, he shouldn’t be suspended. You can dock pay, you can fine him, you can keep the stuff in-house. I’m appalled this is publicized. … I know of plenty of situations spanning the entire world of professional sports, not just the NBA … where folks are messing around with each other. You don’t see this become a story.
“This was leaked by the Boston Celtics’ organization,” he continued. “I know a lot of things about the Boston Celtics organization that pertains to stuff like this that … it would be irresponsible and none of my damn business. Just like it’s none of our damn business now. I’m going to say it again. I don’t see nothing being put out and disseminated to the masses with these White dudes that’s doing this stuff. I know plenty of White dudes that were screwing around while they’re executives or coaches or anything like that — I ain’t talking about the NBA. I’m talking about professional sports. I know plenty. I’ve never seen this publicized. Why are we publicizing this about Ime Udoka? This is wrong.
Head coach Ime Udoka of the Boston Celtics looks on during Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Finals at TD Garden in Boston on June 16, 2022. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
“Bottom line is: it’s a personal, consensual situation with two adults. You violated the code of conduct policy. You violated the relationship policy or the organization policy of the Boston Celtics, then you shouldn’t be there. And if you don’t be there, then what happened to it being a family? What happened to it being in-house? What happened to it being nobody’s damn business but our business? I know people that acted up and has had stuff happen. I don’t see their business out there. Nobody’s publicizing it and that’s within the same damn organization. Don’t get me started.”
The Celtics didn’t immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
Multiple reports later indicated that Udoka was alleged to have had a consensual, intimate relationship with a female staff member and it “was considered to be a violation of the organization’s guidelines.”
Udoka, 45, has been with actress Nia Long since 2010. Long is known for her roles in “Big Momma’s House,” “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Love Jones” among others. The two have one son, and she has a son from a previous relationship.
In his first season with the Celtics in 2021-2022, Udoka led Boston to the Eastern Conference Finals, where his team defeated the Miami Heat to take a trip to the NBA Finals. The Golden State Warriors would eventually win.
Head coach Ime Udoka of the Boston Celtics calls out a play in the fourth quarter against the Golden State Warriors during Game 3 of the NBA Finals at TD Garden in Boston on June 8, 2022. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
The Celtics went into the playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, going 51-31. Udoka became the fifth coach in the last 25 years to make the finals in his first year as head coach.
Fox News’ Scott Thompson and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
Ryan Gaydos is the sports editor for Fox News and Fox Business. Story tips can be sent to Ryan.Gaydos@fox.com.