The Ime Udoka scandal deserves so much more care than anyone has given it

Welcome to Layup Lines, our daily NBA newsletter where we’ll prep you for a tip-off of tonight’s action, from what to watch to bets to make.

Welcome back to Layup Lines. It’s Sykes here to send you off into the weekend. A quick word on the Ime Udoka scandal that has taken the NBA by storm over the last few days.

For those of you who don’t know, Udoka has been suspended for the 2022-23 NBA season by the Celtics for some sort of inappropriate relationship he had with a woman on Boston’s staff.

We don’t know details on exactly why or what he did. We only know that there’s a relationship at the center of this. Outside of that details have been shaky.

But from the beginning, there’s been speculation about all of this including, but not limited to, what woman — or women — Udoka could’ve been involved with, what role those women play for the team, and whether their relationship was consensual or not.

It’s run rampant on the internet over the last couple of days. So much so that Brad Stevens even felt the need to address it during the Celtics’ extremely vague press conference about the entire situation.

“Nobody can control Twitter speculation — rampant bulls–t — but I do think that we as an organization have a responsibility that we’re there to support them now because a lot of people were dragged unfairly because of that.”

This “rampant bulls***,” as Stevens called it, only exists because of the way this story was reported to the public from the beginning.

There were very few details available for people to grab on to. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski initially reported it as Udoka facing “possible disciplinary action” for an unspecified violation of team guidelines. The very next day, Woj reported a season-long suspension was “imminent,” which is a huge jump from “possible disciplinary action.”

There’s more. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that the Celtics’ organization knew about this “consensual” relationship in July but are only choosing to act now, which is a very odd decision considering that it’s resulted in a year-long suspension for the Celtics’ head coach. But none of this is explained at all.

In fact, later on, the relationship is described as “intimate” instead of consensual, which is a completely different thing.

To make measures worse, other media members have received information from sources close to the matter but are hesitant to reveal anything. And that’s totally reasonable considering the sensitivity of the matter. But if you can’t say anything about it, then why speak at all? That’s the question nobody seems to be asking here.

This is the sort of piecemeal reporting we’d get for a trade negotiation or an offer in free agency. But lives are in the balance here. People’s peace has been taken away from them. Udoka’s fiancé, Nia Long, has to see all of this and constantly live through it.

This could’ve all been avoided had things been carefully reported out wholly and fully. What we have now feels more like lunch table gossip.

And these women all deserve way more respect than that.

The Tip-Off

Some NBA goodness from around the USA TODAY Sports network.

John Wall meant a lot to me and so many other Wizards’ fans. Over the last decade, he almost single-handedly lifted the franchise from obscurity into NBA relevance.

So to see him struggling with mental health and contemplating suicide after everything he’s been through is hard. I wrote about it on Thursday. He described the grip depression had on him in a piece for the Player’s Tribune and it was deep.

“The one thing I always held on to, in the darkest times, was the thought of my boys — just the little things, like wanting to be around for their first day of school, or their first vacation. Or wanting them to see their dad play in an NBA game for real, and not just on some highlights from back in the day. Those thoughts held me down during a lot of hard nights. But if I’m being honest, even the thought of being a father wasn’t enough for me to get help. That’s how depression lies to you. That devil on your shoulder is whispering to you, ‘Well, maybe they’d be better off without you here.’”

That’s rough. Extremely rough. But I’m glad Wall is still here with us. And so many others are too.

Shootaround

Malika Andrews rightfully called out Stephen A. Smith for placing any sort of blame on the woman involved with Ime Udoka.

— Nia Long finally broke her silence on the Ime Udoka scandal.

Ben Simmons finally explained why he passed up that dunk against the Hawks.

— Everything you need to know about Celtics’ new coach, Joe Mazzulla.

Enjoy the weekend, folks.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Celtics: Ime Udoka scandal deserves so much more care