Do Celtics Dare Suspend Udoka For Year After NBA’s Sarver Decision?

The NBA may very well end up facing a public relations crisis if Celtics coach Ime Udoka is banned for a year over a consensual
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The Boston Celtics had better be careful they make the right decision in regards to their pending disciplinary action against coach Ime Udoka.

The NBA may very well end up facing a public relations crisis if Celtics coach Ime Udoka is banned for a year over a consensual relationship with a Celtics staffer–while Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver was given a pass despite the fact that he allegedly cultivated a toxic, racist, and sexist workplace.

Coach Udoka’s star has been on the rise, particularly since he took the Celtics to last year's NBA Finals, against the Golden State Warriors, in his first year as a head coach. The news that Udoka allegedly violated Celtics’ rules by reportedly engaging in a consensual relationship is now, interestingly, receiving more negative press that the NBA’s failure to properly punish the Suns’ Sarver.

The Udoka news is also a convenient distraction to the disgraceful outcome where Sarver was apparently protected by the virtually all-white NBA ownership.

The double-standard here can be clearly seen in Black and white.

Some might say if Udoka violated the Celtics’ workplace policy regarding having intimate sexual relations with a franchise staffer that he should be punished. And it is certainly true that many companies have similar policies because of the problems such relationships can cause in the workplace.

Should Udoka face some disciplinary action if he is guilty of this infraction? Yes. But if Udoka is suspended for a year, it would be an egregiously unfair decision–especially, since Sarver’s punishment for creating a hostile, racist, sexist workplace was a one year suspension and a $10 million fine.

Sarver is reportedly now trying to sell the Phoenix Suns and WNBA Phoenix Mercury and claims he is trying to atone for his sins. Sarver may soon exit the NBA–but it will be largely on his own terms.

Now, it is true that Udoka faces internal discipline from the Celtics, while Sarver faced it from the NBA governing body. And, many of the NBA owners are said to have made it impossible for Sarver to have faced a much more stringent judgment from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. We can only wonder what the Celtics owners' stance was regarding Sarver. The owners of the Celtics had better weigh the Sarver decision as they contemplate the course to take in regards to coach Udoka.

The Celtics must understand that many people with not make a distinction between their disciplining of Udoka and the fact that Sarver was “disciplined” by the NBA.

Sarver is said to have been doing these racist sexist things in the Suns' workplace, for years. But first-year coach Udoka’s apparent indiscretion is quickly seized upon in news headlines.

Is it because Udoka is Black and not white like Sarver? The answer to that question is most definitely yes.

The Celtics may say that is ridiculous. They may want to pretend that they are just taking their disciplinary rules seriously. But they should remember all of the racism that was experienced by the most iconic player in the history of their franchise: the recently passed Bill Russell.

Despite the important racial strides that were made by the Celtics, in the drafting of players like Russell; and of players like Chuck Cooper, one of the first three Black players in the NBA; as well as putting the first all-Black team on a NBA floor; racism is too deeply embedded in American society for the Celtics ownership to take this decision lightly given the racial implications many will see, particularly after the Sarver decision.

The Celtics had better make the right judgment here–or, they could unintentionally undermine their past efforts regarding racism, as well as the positive press the NBA has gotten since racial justice protests exploded after George Floyd’s murder.

And the Celtics’ decision can’t be a suspension mirroring the one that a racist, sexist, white NBA owner just got.

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