ESPN, CAA, Woj, and Ime Udoka
What happened when the Worldwide Leader and Stephen A. Smith responded to a scandal in real time
As you may know, the Boston Celtics have suspended head coach Ime Udoka for the season, with zero indication that they want him back, post-punishment. The precipitating offense is a sexual relationship with a staffer who happens to be lower on the org chart. A highly relevant twist in the case was reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic on Thursday evening:
Some members of the Celtics organization first became aware of the relationship in July, sources said. At that time, team leadership was led to believe by both parties that the relationship was consensual. But sources said that the woman recently accused Udoka of making unwanted comments toward her — leading the team to launch a set of internal interviews.
Given that report, and everything else said in private, an agent friend of mine delivered a verdict on Ime Udoka’s NBA head coaching prospects: “He’s done.”
My guy’s not the only one saying it. This is how many NBA insiders now see the situation, and have seen it since Thursday, really. While nobody can completely predict the future, it is a widespread interpretation of present events. But you’re not so much hearing that on ESPN. Instead, if you’re watching the main sports channel on this topic, you’re witness to a rather bizarre game of kabuki that’s downstream from conflicts of interest.
Stephen A. Smith, who, despite his love of conflict, tends to be an organizational team player, is likely drawing his takes off of lead NBA news breaker Adrian Wojnarowski’s reporting. On Friday, Stephen A. was generous to Woj, citing his stories while the two shared a desk.
But here’s the issue: Woj and everybody under him dragged their feet on acknowledging Charania’s report of “unwanted comments.” Indeed, Adrian appeared to espouse a narrative about Udoka that’s wholly out of alignment with the situation and league sentiment in response to it. This likely happened, yet again, due to an association that the Worldwide Leader isn’t mentioning. This is troublesome enough when the topic is contracts or trades. Today, it’s potential sexual misconduct. Here’s the backstory.