February 8, 2023

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Celtics say coach Aimee Odoka’s comment was a matter of ‘conscience’

Celtics say coach Aimee Odoka's comment was a matter of 'conscience'

Boston Days before the start of training camp, the Celtics were reeling from an investigation, the suspension of their head coach, and a surprisingly harsh public spotlight on several female employees the team said were being treated unfairly.

But the team doesn’t say much about how the situation got to this point or how it might eventually be resolved.

On Friday, Celtics majority owner Wyc Grousbeck, and Brad Stevens, head of basketball operations, spoke publicly for the first time since the team announced late Thursday that Coach Ime Udoka suspended for the 2022-23 season due to unspecified “team policy violations”.

A person who was briefed on the matter and was not authorized to speak publicly about it said that Odoka had an inappropriate relationship with an employee of the team. Grosbeek cited “privacy reasons” in refusing to go into detail on the nature of Odoka’s misconduct.

Grosbeek said the Celtics’ decision to suspend Odoka’s work followed a months-long investigation into his conduct by an independent law firm.

“It’s a time to worry, think and act,” he said. “We have strong values ​​at the Celtics, and we’re doing everything we can to support them here.”

Odoka, 45, coached the Celtics in the NBA Finals last season in his first year in that position. Joe Mazzola, one of Odoka’s assistants, will be the team’s interim coach this season.

Grosbeek said he did not believe the position on Odoka indicated a larger problem within the organization. He said Odoka was the only person to have been punished or punished, and that the Celtics would not name anyone else who might be involved.

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“We do our best — or to the extent appropriate, at least — to run the organization with its core value of respect and freedom in the workplace from harassment or other unwanted attention,” Grosbeek said, adding that he would speak to employees to see if policy violations More widespread than thought.

Udoka’s comment comes as the NBA struggles with workplace behavior in Phoenix. Last week, the association said an investigation found a pattern spanning years inappropriate behavior Written by Robert Sarver, majority owner of the WNBA’s The Suns and Mercury. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver fined Sarver $10 million and suspended him for a year. But amid a backlash over the perceived leniency in the penalty, Sarver announced on Wednesday that He was planning to sell both teams.

Fuzzy reports about Odoka’s situation surfaced late Wednesday. Since then, several people on social media have posted the names and photos of the women working on the Celtics team, commenting on their bodies and other aspects of their appearances speculating whether the women were involved in Udoka.

“We have a lot of talented women in our organization, and I think yesterday was really hard for them,” Stevens said, adding, “I think we, as an organization, have a responsibility to make sure we are there to support them now.”

Grosbeek said he was disturbed that many of the team’s employees were “unintentionally and inappropriately drawn into the public eye”.

What we consider before using anonymous sources. Do you know the sources of information? What is their motive for telling us? Has it been proven reliable in the past? Can we confirm the information? Even as these questions satisfy, The Times uses anonymous sources as a last resort. The reporter and at least one editor know the identity of the source.

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On Friday, Celtics team reporter Amanda Pvlograd said, Wrote in a post on Twitter The past few days have been “heartbreaking”.

“Seeing the names of unconcerned people being put up in the media, including my own, with such negligence is disgusting,” she said. “This is a step backwards for the women in sport who have worked so hard to establish themselves in an industry worthy of being in.”

Grosbeek said team officials learned over the summer “that there was a situation,” which prompted them to hire a law firm to investigate Odoka’s behavior. Grosbeek said the law firm passed its findings to the team on Wednesday.

“The investigation had some ups and downs and took some time to clarify all the facts,” he said.

Grosbeek consulted with a group of team officials and sought input from outside advisors before determining Odoka’s penalty, he said. Oduka’s suspension will be unpaid.

“It felt right, but there are no clear guidelines for any of this,” Grosbeek said. “This is really a feeling of conscience and instinct.”

He added that no decision had been made on Odoka’s long-term future.

Grosbeek admitted that Celtics players were “concerned” about the situation – “that’s not a welcome development,” he said – although he said he expects them to come together and play hard this season.

Odoka has close relationships with many players. Stevens said it would be disingenuous to expect the start of training camp next week to be business as usual.

“I wouldn’t ignore the fact that there are human emotions everywhere,” Stevens said.

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The Celtics will enter the season as one of the most talented teams in the NBA. Last season, they entered two games of winning their first championship since 2008. Since then, their core – led by Jason Tatum And the Jaylyn Brown – she has It remained largely intact.

But now, there are new challenges to be faced on the field: the unexpected absence of Odoka, the jarring adjustment to play for a new coach, and the pre-season ravages of injury.

Danilo Gallinari, the veteran striker who signed with Celtics this summer and created space with his peripheral shot, may miss the entire season after he ruptured the ACL in his left knee while playing for Italy last month. Robert Williams, the team’s starting center, underwent arthroscopic surgery this week to remove loose bodies and treat swelling in his left knee. The team said it can return to basketball activities within eight to 12 weeks.

Boston will hold its media day the Monday before the bootcamp begins. The Celtics will open their season at home to Philadelphia 76ers on October 18.