Boston Celtics reporter Amanda Pflugrad has slammed the incessant social media speculation surrounding the identity of the female employee who had an ‘inappropriate’ relationship with coach Ime Udoka.
Udoka was handed a one-year ban by the team this week – as well as a ‘significant financial penalty’ after ‘multiple violations of conduct rules’ – but the decision was made to keep the name of the woman involved a secret.
Many have claimed this has led to unfair speculation online and has dragged multiple innocent women into the rumors, and that point has been echoed by Pflugrad – herself an employee of the Celtics.
Amanda Pflugrad (right) is a Celtics reporter who has been dragged into online rumors
Ime Udoka was suspended for the season for having a relationship with an unnamed staffer
‘As a female of the Celtics organization, watching these last few days unfold has been heartbreaking,’ she wrote on Twitter Friday.
‘Seeing uninvolved people’s names thrown around in the media, including mine, with such carelessness is disgusting. This is a step backwards for women in sports who have worked hard to prove themselves in an industry they deserve to be in.’
Alongside the post, she added: ‘It’s time to speak up on this matter and to my female coworkers, I see you and I am always here #womeninsports.’
Over the last few days, fans have taken to social media in an attempt to work out the identity of the woman, with various conspiracy theories being widely shared.
This, unsurprisingly, has led to various innocent parties having their reputations tarnished – including Pflugrad – and Stephen A. Smith is among those urging the team to share more information.
Pflugrad has slammed the ‘heartbreaking’ and ‘disgusting’ rumors flying around online
She is one of many female members of staff in the organization that have been dragged in
‘At this particular moment in time… Ime Udoka is an unhireable individual,’ he said on his ESPN First Take show. ‘But the unhireable portion, I would make the claim, is primarily due to the fact that the story was leaked out and we are now discussing it publicly.
‘The woman who elected to have a consensual relationship with him is not in violation [of team policy]? He gets to get mentioned and put on front street – we don’t know who she is.
‘What about the other women in the Celtics organization who have been victimized because wrong assumptions have been made [about] their involvement? If you knew exactly who it was, that would alleviate the concerns of all the other women who have had their names paraded out into the streets. What about them?’
The chaotic situation at the Celtics escalated on Friday when Udoka’s fiancee, actress Nia Long, said she had been ‘blindsided’ by the affair and found out just days after moving back to Boston to be with his longtime beau.
Boston Celtics head coach Udoka, pictured with his longtime fiancé, actress Nia Long
Nia Long is pictured, right, with the couple’s 10-year-old son recently and, left, on social media
The Fresh Prince of Bel Air actress has been with Udoka for over a decade and share a 10-year-old son, but their family bliss was destroyed this week.
It’s believed that Long discovered the infidelity only when the Celtics announced the suspension of their coach.
‘The outpouring of love and support from family, friends and the community during this difficult time means so much to me,’ Long said through her spokeswoman.
‘I ask that my privacy be respected as I process the recent events.
‘Above all, I am a mother and will continue to focus on my children,’ she said.
According to The Athletic, some members of the Celtics learned about Udoka’s relationship in July, and team leaders were initially led to believe the relationship was consensual.
Celtics majority owner Wyc Grousbeck came down strongly on his suspended head coach
American sweetheart: Long shot to fame in roles like Lisa Wilkes in the Fresh Prince of Bel Air
However, sources told the publication that the woman recently accused Udoka of making unwanted comments towards her, which led he team to launch internal interviews.
Long, meanwhile, became a household name with her role in the Fresh Prince of Bel Air as Lisa Wilkes, Will Smith’s girlfriend.
She also starred in Boyz In The Hood, Soul Food and Big Momma’s House.
The beloved actress is also the recipient of three NAACP Image Awards and a Black Reel Award.
As news of the affair spread across social media this week, Long’s fans and famous friends leaped to her defense.
Many chastised Udoka for his indiscretion, asking how he could have betrayed the actress – a universally popular star and one of the most beautiful actresses of her generation.
‘Sending nothing but love to Nia Long.
‘We’re not letting a man, who didn’t recognize the luxury her presence was, dim all her beauty and glory.
Stephen A. Smith was very upset with how the Celtics handled Udoka’s reported affair
Boston assistant Joe Mazzulla will serve as interim coach throughout the upcoming season
‘Matter of fact, we need a Nia Long national holiday!’ tweeted New York Congressman Jamaal Bowmann.
‘Nia Long has an 100% approval rating with Black America and Ime Udoka is about to understand that,’ added film producer Van Lathan.
‘Cheating on Nia Long? End of days has to be upon us because ain’t NO WAY,’ added producer Nina Parker.
Celtics team president Brad Stevens and Grousbeck addressed the media on Friday, and strongly rebuked the now-suspended Udoka, noting that only he was ‘facing penalty or reprimand.’
According to Grousbeck, the organization’s players are ‘very concerned’ about the situation.
‘We think our culture is very strong,’ he added. ‘We’re very proud of it. But this has shaken it. I don’t think there is a wider issue than what we’ve spent several months uncovering.’
Smith took issue with how Grousbeck addressed the situation and made as much clear on First Take.
‘I’m not gonna regurgitate what was said, but it was very very alarming, highly one-sided, and as far as I’m concerned, based on this press conference there is no reason on earth, right now, why Ime Udoka is still the head coach of the Boston Celtics albeit a suspended one,’ he said.
Joe Mazulla, a 34-year-old who served as a Celtics assistant last year, will be the interim coach for the 2022-23 season.