How Celtics Players Reacted To Ime Udoka Situation; ‘It’s Been Hell For Us’

Players were asked an avalanche of questions

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September 26

CANTON, Mass. — The Boston Celtics are set to open their 2022-23 season with their first training camp session Tuesday, despite being less than a week removed from the organization-altering suspension of head coach Ime Udoka.

Udoka, who has been banned for the 2022-23 season due to violations of the team’s policy, reportedly made “unwanted” comments to a Celtics female staffer after initially being involved in an “improper” yet “consensual” relationship with that individual.

Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck during a press conference Friday said players on the team were “concerned” about the developments regarding Udoka. Those players were asked a flurry of questions during the team’s media day Monday regarding their initial thoughts and reactions to the Udoka suspension.

Here are what a number of those players had to say:

Marcus Smart: “It’s been hell for us. Just caught off surprise. Nobody really knows anything. So we’re just like everyone else. These last couple of days have been confusing. … I think the hardest part is it did happen so quickly. It happened in no time to really understand anything before media day. So we just kind of, just like you guys, have been thrown out here. This is what’s going on. We have to still go out and do our jobs. So, it’s been tough because this type of situation takes away, unfortunately, from the players who are here who’s been putting in the work, put in the work. And, you know, who’s going out there to do their jobs. So it’s definitely been unfortunate for all parties involved. But like I said, we just found out just like you did. So we’re trying to do our best to cope with whatever we know just like you guys.”

Jayson Tatum: “I guess I feel like everybody else, there’s a lot to process, as expected. Especially coming into this season, coming off last year, this year you’re excited and trying to do all these things. It’s just a lot, if I’m being honest. Along with everybody else still trying to process it all knowing that we start practice tomorrow. … How did I find out? (Expletive) on Twitter, like everybody else. It’s just an unfortunate situation. You know, all things considered, nobody expected this coming into the season. We were all kind of caught off guard by everything. But we got to try to move forward and play basketball.”

Jaylen Brown: “Initial reactions, I think I was, we were all shocked with what was going on. A little confused, a little bit. But a lot of the information wasn’t being shared with us or members of the team so you can’t really comment on it. … I mean, I’ll say it again: I wish we had more details. From what we know, it’s hard to make a decision based upon whether it’s consensual or not in the workplace, or whatever is going on, which we know that’s happened before in the workplace. But I guess there’s more to it than that, possibly, which we don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t have all the details being shared with me. So, it’s hard to really comment on something that you are not filled in with all the details.”

Grant Williams: “At the time I found out, same as everyone else (Twitter), but I understand that because as an organization you have to protect yourself. And same thing with life, like you don’t ever want to leak or anything like that. So, you take it as it is and then you try and understand the facts, but (when) those facts become available, you know more, but right now I don’t know the facts.”

Payton Pritchard: “I mean, it’s a really unfortunate situation. But I think we’re like the public, we don’t know all the facts and stuff like that. But right now we’re just trying to focus on what we can focus on and get ready for training camp and get ready for the start of the season. … And I have known Ime for a long time and he’s been a big figure in the Portland community. But like I said before, we don’t know all the facts, the players don’t, it’s an unfortunate situation but right now we’re just trying to focus on the basketball side of things and get ready for training camp.”

Derrick White: “Yeah, I think it’s been a pretty crazy week or so, however long it’s been. Just finding out, going through those emotions, each person has a different way of processing it. But it’s been pretty crazy and just trying to focus on the season and prepare myself to do what I need to do for the season coming up.”

Of note, veteran big man Al Horford deflected a bit when asked about the situation, but shared his feeling was one of “shock.”

Follow along with NESN?s coverage from Celtics media day here.

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Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images
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