Over the past 36 hours, here’s what we’ve learned about the events that led to the one-year suspension of Boston Celtics coach, Aime Odoka, in order:
- Wednesday night, ESPN’s Adrian Vojnarowski reported That Udoka would face “potential disciplinary action – including significant suspension – for an unspecified violation of regulatory guidelines.” Wojnarowski later added that Udoka’s job would not be in jeopardy.
- later that night, Shams Asherani the athlete chirp that Odoka “had an improper intimate and consensual relationship with a member of the crew.” Except, the next evening, Charania mentioned The relationship may not have been so consensual. “Both parties led the team leadership to believe that the relationship was consensual,” Charania wrote. “But sources said that the woman had recently accused Odoka of making unsolicited comments towards her – prompting the team to launch a raft of internal interviews.”
- At a news conference Friday morning, Celtics’ majority owner Wyc Grousbeck provided some details, but told reporters that a months-long investigation found “a scale of abuse.”
NBA fans are used to this dynamic, as the slow drip of vague reports leads to widespread speculation. This usually happens with trade and free agency. But it has different consequences when it comes to the issue of misconduct in the workplace. The Internet, which abhors the information vacuum, has been ablaze with sordid theories — or, as team leader Brad Stevens put it, “Twitter speculation and rampant nonsense” — about the identity of the woman. sometime on thursday, LandscapeMark Spears felt compelled to drop a popular theory by tweeting that an employee had not participated.
There is still a lot we don’t know. The Celtics, in their Friday morning press conference, didn’t say much. “I won’t be able to provide a lot of additional facts or circumstances about what happened and why the suspension,” Grosbeek said. There could be legal reasons for this approach, as Grosbeek added that “the privacy reasons for the people involved are a concern. I must leave you with the wording of our statement, which was fairly straightforward.” At least they were transparent about how vague they were.
Privacy is important, but who is protecting here? Certainly not the women whose names have been dragged through the mud on the Internet. It’s tempting to say that this is none of anyone’s business. But as a head coach, Odoka has a tremendous amount of power. No one spared perhaps Stevens or the property group could be seen as his equal in the Celtics hierarchy. When someone like him gets involved in an investigation that suggests he could have abused that power, the right to privacy runs counter to the importance of transparency.
The Celtics team asks us to trust them to balance these competing factors, and to trust that these are the only factors being considered here. They are also asking us to trust their verdict on the one-year ban and on the character of interim coach Joe Mazzola, who was Arrested On domestic battery charges in 2009. “I think very strongly that probably shaped him into what he is today in a really good way,” Stevens said Friday, of Mazola’s arrest. “But he will be the first to tell you that he is 110 percent responsible for that and I will be the first to tell you that I believe it.”
It’s hard to trust the NBA, where privacy often protects the strong. Robert Sarver’s latest story highlights the power of transparency. After he was suspended for a year and fined $10 million for an 18-year pattern of misogyny and racism, the league announced the investigation publicly. Fans, players, league staff, and sponsors were able to read it. Their anger was the catalyst that made Sarver agree to sell the team.
The Celtics avoided interference from the league by hiring a law firm of their choice to launch an investigation, but in doing so they raised more questions. Like last season, the specter of what we don’t know may hang over Boston’s season. As of now, the Celtics team has not made any decisions about Udoka’s future beyond next year. With blurry authority, Mazzola will teleport the coaching staff who lost their first assistant, Will Hardy, to Utah when they need him most. Robert Williams III will be out in eight to 12 weeks after having another knee surgery, six months after his first procedure. This is an unprecedented area, and the Celtics are quickly discovering how to tackle it.
“this is [punishment] It felt right, but there are no clear guidelines for any of this, Grosbeek said. “It’s really a conscious, energetic feeling and being here for 20 years. I’m responsible for the decision, in the end. It wasn’t clear what to do but it was clear that something fundamental had to be done, and it was.”
Until we know more, we have no choice but to take his word for it.