Ime Udoka’s NBA cheating scandal exposed the shallowness of the sports media

TThe only thing we know for sure is that Celtics coach Ime Udoka received a one-year suspension from the organization for reasons related to a sexual relationship he had with another Celtics employee. We now know that he was arrested when the employee’s husband was arrested Overheard a private conversation On Ring Camera, we may be Know who the other person is. Regardless, there are a lot of guesses, assumptions, and spins very Some hard facts about what Udoka did, about how much he liked or disliked his progress, or about how many people might or might not be affected by his behavior. As the public turns to new “information”, some media outlets can tend to speculate wildly, for Putting too much trust in sources with agendasto rely on rumors and guesswork rather than the kind of information being vetted that journalists are taught to trust.

In sports media, it’s especially bad. This is usually because when you are reporting something unimportant like current events in a game, the stakes are very low. How does Kevin Durant feel about Kyrie Irving? It’s a benign matter, and superficially noticing it wouldn’t do all that much harm except perhaps to Durant and Irving, who are well compensated for that kind of nonsense. But when something like this happens in Udoka, it shows that the sports media sorely lacks the perspective or discipline it takes to tell this story in a responsible or informative way. Because this thing in Udoka is a story about sports, yes, but it’s also a story about work, a story about relationships, and a story about the power dynamics that are inherent in those two things. And so far, a lot of sports-speaking organizations have done a terrible job of framing this in a responsible manner.

This Udoka story is royally spoiled in three main areas.


I recently wrote about the life work of Adrian Wojnarowski, Shams Charania, ESPN, The Athletic’s NBA scoopmasters, and two very strange men whose role in their networks is less a “well-functioning reporter” and more an “information broker serving the needs of sources in exchanging tweetable scoops that stimulate engagement and keep them fed.” “. Wojnarowski posted the news that Udoka will be suspended for this year on his Twitter account, as usual.

Woj’s tweet was soon followed by a similar tweet from Charania, confirming what Woj had not actually reported: that the team had suspended Udoka for a year.

Then it produced Charania Comment report This confirms that Udoka has been suspended for having an inappropriate relationship with another Celtics employee. The word “consensual” does not appear anywhere in this report.

It’s easy to read between the lines here: Woj, who quickly tweeted an uncertain but highly probable event, was dependent on someone somehow connected to Odoka (possibly his agent), who was determined to get the word out “by mutual consent” in a report to avoid speculation about the event and create a buffer zone for Udoka.

The problem with that is that the approval line gets frayed easily when you’re someone’s boss. In the NBA organizations, the coach is one of the most powerful people in the building. This means that Udoka’s little cheating adventure may be above legal, but it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which it would constitute appropriate boss/employee behavior. Woj, of course, doesn’t care about that. He is interested in the scoop, and has allowed himself to carry water for Odoka by introducing the word “consensual” in an ambiguous situation at best.


a common refrain In the past few days, the way the sports media has handled Odoka’s story has contrasted with the recent news that former NFL legend Brett Favre Involved in a scheme to defraud Mississippi residents out of millions of dollars in welfare money intended for the state’s poorest people. This flick is attractive on social media, but it breaks down upon deeper analysis.

First, it is unfair to sports speakers who You have Discuss the Favre thing. Here is Mina Chaims, for example, shredded it around the century. Secondly, the sports media is present in its territory when talking about the sport itself. Odoka’s story, in addition to being a tale of work, power, and sex, is a story of what would happen with the Boston Celtics. The team thrived under Udoka, reaching the NBA Finals after being knocked out in the first round the previous year, and the team’s product is bound to be influenced by the diverse crew of assistants who will replace him on the sidelines. And third, and most importantly: Why would you want Stephen A. Smith about something as important as welfare fraud? He shouldn’t be talking about it anything this is important!

When it comes to trivial sports, Stephen A. Smith is fine. But the second serious thing to happen, it’s terrible.

For those who don’t know: Stephen A. Smith is kind of a host / takes a weird entertaining vaudeville machine at heart take firstDaily ESPN2 news and reviews show it’s broadcast daily to every airport terminal and open idle computer in America. He is, by far, the most prominent and well-known sports analyst in the country.

Now, Stephen A. Analyst or commentator Literally True, but it is closer to the connection Jim Ross “wrestling journalist”. Impossible to watch take first And come up with any new knowledge about how the sport works. Stephen A doesn’t deconstruct it so much as he captures the identifier of the sport’s collective consciousness – every day he cries about trivial things, Crying for the KnicksAnd the Dipping on the cowboy fans. post unruly opinions, He defends them against naive opponentsand generally behaves like quite an eccentric.

When it comes to trivial sports, Stephen A. Smith is fine. But the second serious thing to happen, it’s terrible. like time [see video above] Where he couldn’t help himself from advising women everywhere not to do anything that might “provoke” a man to hit them in the wake of the Baltimore Ravens running backwards, Ray Rice was caught brutally beating his wife in an elevator in Atlantic City. Or when he said that, in favor of baseball, the bowler/champion angels shoahi ohtani He must speak English When interviewed by the American media.

When news of Udoka broke and Stephen A. In his opinion, he didn’t talk about the prevailing dynamics, the weirdness of the story, or the huge information gaps. Instead, he chose to go ahead and talk about how the Celtics were creating a lack of knowledge by suspending Udoka rather than firing him outright. He says miasma is the cause of the wild speculation about who exactly Udoka was in a relationship with and introduces her hot and new, like sports, about something that’s just about sports and sports.

Excusing Udoka and covering up their findings was the old way of doing it, failing to protect someone in power and hoping no one would find out. That’s what Robert Sarver, owner of Phoenix Suns has done for years, until now Until Baxter Holmes revealed it. It’s also the kind of thing that doesn’t work anymore because Udoka would have been sued and his discovery would have been made public. It appears that Stephen A. This is widely accepted as standard operating procedure for sports teams dealing with unbalanced power relations between offices, which is strange at best. On the other hand, firing Udoka and keeping the cause silent will lead to the exact same result, because everyone in the world will wonder why the hell the Celtics fired the coach who just got them to the finals and will eventually determine the cause, unleashing public wrath on Udoka And the The Celtics were implicated in the cover-up.

But Stephen A. Not concerned with the real problems here. His whole mind is devoted to sport as a sport, and for him this whole thing is messy and the best way to deal with something messy is to clean it up so there is as little mess as possible.

When contacted by ESPN’s Malika Andrews on the sidelines of this thread, he was incredibly rude with her on the air, acting as if she was Skip Bayless and not a woman discussing an issue related to the struggles women faced in the workplace day after year after. decade.

I will not be claiming a job for Stephen A. Smith because he won’t lose it. But I will say that Stephen A. And other sports writers and speakers whose careers have been built on a complete disregard for the outside world of sport, and on the integrity of the regulatory system over everything else, are completely ill-equipped to deal with this story. Maybe one day there will be a file take first A host who can be a clown entertaining and self-aware enough not to inadvertently revive a corporate playbook about bad sexual harassment. But I will not count on it.


There is something else going on here. Everyone in the NBA information field knows it, and no one talks about it. Matt Barnes, the retired NBA forward who hosts a podcast about the league, originally responded to the news with “I don’t think he should have been stopped.” Then, the next day, he deleted that reply and posted a video that appears to have filmed him while he was driving, apparently a bad idea.

Rough translation: I’ve heard a few things and can’t tell you, but I don’t want that last being logged.

Sports journalists are established gossip. Stephen A. That there is a way to do it in the shadows, to keep everyone away from him, but man, if anyone Known for how rich and smelly the NBA chatter is, it’s Stephen A. Smith. The rumor mill, the stories circulating on DMs and media meals, the rotten filth you’ve heard about, the so-and-so presence of chlamydia, that’s fueling the entire sports-information world – the wonderful but unreported underworld.

Usually, sports are not all that important. But sometimes, sports clash with the outside world. At this point, the impulse to chatter that underpins every inch of column space and every pinned eyeball on ESPN becomes something of a freak. In the wake of these announcements, there have been men so far from knowing that they might not be legally allowed to be in a room with an NBA player logging into the Celtics people page and trying to figure out who Udoka might have been cheating on me. with his wife. This was horrific but also to be expected. A mathematical rule inevitably includes speculation, allusion, and assumption. The “clutch” reputation is statistically bullshit, but the fan’s eye builds it up anyway. We see sports as a subject of interpretation – a great Jungian playground for the mind to elicit shallow and wild truths. Harnessing this drive is what made Stephen A.

When it’s just a game, this impulse is fun at best and stupid at worst. But when it comes to something more serious, these readings get weird and potentially harmful. Until someone knows something about this Udoka thing, untainted by influence or secrecy, this is where he will live in the media and elsewhere.

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