Media day was never going to be business as usual for the Boston Celtics this year. We’re less than a week removed from the news that Ime Udoka had violated multiple organizational policies and will thus be suspended for the entirety of the 2022-23 NBA season, with his long-term future still to be decided.
While not much is clear about the circumstances surrounding Udoka’s situation, it’s apparent that the front office is working diligently to keep the details in-house. Yet, there was always a notion that the players would be informed of the allegations, and the findings of the Celtics' external law firm. However, it would appear that is not the case.
“S*** (I found out) on Twitter, like everybody else,” Tatum said during his media day appearance, as he answered questions surrounding Udoka’s suspension and the circumstances in which the allegations were bought to his attention.
Tatum is the Celtics’ franchise player, and one would assume that if anyone was going to be looped into the team's current plight, it would be him. Nonetheless, Tatum’s first exposure to the fact his head coach might not be on the sidelines this season came in the same way as it did for the rest of us, including his teammates.
“I think we were all shocked at what was going on. A little confused. A lot of the information wasn’t being shared with us, or members of the team, so we can’t really comment on it,” Brown said.
Marcus Smart also echoed Tatum and Brown’s sentiment that the players are all still in the dark regarding Udoka’s suspension, although he did note that he would prefer if the playing staff were given some additional details of the overall situation.
“It’s been hell, just caught by surprise. Nobody really knows anything. We’re in the wind just like everybody else,” Smart said, “We don’t know what the organization knows. We don’t know what they know, so we don’t know what they’re supposed to tell us, or what we’re supposed to know...We’re still waiting, just like everybody else. As a player, you would like to know, but that’s none of our business, it’s their lives. The people who are involved, it’s between them, and we should respect their privacy.”
Udoka’s suspension is still a fresh wound that will take time to heal and we should also be cognizant that an investigation is likely still ongoing, and that if the Celtics' most senior players are in the dark about the details of the situation, the rest of the roster will be too.
Legally, the Celtics hands may be tied when it comes to offering details about the Udoka suspension. But if there is a takeaway from Boston’s Media Day it’s that players are frustrated that they don’t know more.— Chris Mannix (@SIChrisMannix) September 26, 2022
However, throughout each press conference that took place on media day, the Celtics' message was clear: We can still win a championship, but it’s going to take some time to heal, trust, and accept the circumstances in which they find themselves.
Still, given the gravity of the situation, each and every player noted how they’re focusing on what they can control, and that’s putting the best possible basketball product on the court in the coming weeks.
“We have to do our job. It’s an unfortunate situation with everything going on. I can’t speak on that too much; I’m here to speak about basketball,” Robert Williams said.
Another aspect of what we’ve learned from today’s press conferences is the importance the Celtics front office is placing on protecting the privacy of all involved, and given the nature of the allegations, that’s certainly something we should all get behind and respect.