The Boston Celtics announced Thursday that head coach Ime Udoka has been suspended for one year. The following morning, news of Udoka’s punishment resulted in a verbal fight between two of ESPN’s most popular personalities, Stephen A. Smith and Malika Andrews.
The Celtics didn’t provide many details about what they called a month-long investigation into Udoka, but ESPN reported that sources said the punishment stemmed from the coach having a relationship with an unidentified woman who works with the organization. Udoka hasn’t said much on the matter either, other than a statement he provided to Andrews in which he apologized to his family and Celtics fans.
Smith spoke about Udoka’s suspension on his show first shot. The popular host took offense to the fact that Boston sanctioned Udoka without naming the employee he was allegedly in a relationship with.
“So he’s just violating a company policy?” Smith said. “Isn’t the woman who chose to have a consensual relationship with him raping? Can he be mentioned and brought to the fore? We don’t know who he is.”
His complaint resulted in Andrews, host of ESPN’s nba todaya call to first shot and criticize Smith for blaming women.
“Stephen A., with all due respect, this is not about pointing fingers. Stop. What became apparent to me, at this press conference, is that we don’t have all the information here and it was frustrating for me that the The Celtics declined to elaborate or elaborate on exactly what the rule violation was that got them to this point,” Andrews said.
He added: “We’re not here, Stephen A., to blame women. That’s not why we’re here.”
Smith seemed not to have appreciated Andrews’ comments.
“First of all let me be very clear, I don’t appreciate where you’re going with that. I don’t blame anyone but Ime Udoka,” Smith said. “The fact is, I said he deserves to be fired if you’re going to fire him. If you’re not going to fire him, then don’t fire him. My problem is getting this all published.”
Andrew tried to intervene as Smith continued to speak, but he cut her off.
“Excuse me. I heard you,” he said. “You’re the one telling me to stop my show, that’s not happening. That’s fine. That’s number one. Number two, I already said he deserves to be fired or he deserves to be there and handle it internally and privately.”
news week contacted ESPN for comment.