ESPN Hosts Stephen A. Smith & Malika Andrews Have Heated On-Air Exchange Over Suspended Celtics Coach Ime Udoka
Everyone seems to be on edge as a result of the Ime Udoka affair, including ESPN commentators Stephen A. Smith and Malika Andrews.
The two engaged in a contentious back-and-forth about the ongoing scandal on First Take, which came after Malika Andrews, the host of NBA Today, called into the program after the Boston Celtics held a press conference on Ime Udoka.
Malika Andrews seemingly came in swinging, saying,
“If I could first start with this: Stephen A., with all due respect, this is not about pointing the finger. Stop. What became apparent to me in this press conference is that we do not have all the information here. It was frustrating, to me, that the Celtics declined to elaborate or give more specifics about what exactly the rule-breaking was that led us to this point.”
The TV host also said it was “gross and unnecessary” to speculate about women who were allegedly having an affair with Ime Udoka. She berated the Celtics for failing to provide more information on his violations.
“The fact that it was able to go on all day. The fact that we are sitting here debating whether somebody else should be suspended or not. We are not here, Stephen A., to further blame women. That is not why we are here.”
Malika Andrews to Stephen A. Smith on First Take:
"With all due respect, this is not about pointing the finger. Stop… We do not have all of the information here."pic.twitter.com/5wGHz8h20W
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) September 23, 2022
In response, Stephen A. Smith pointed out that he took issue with all of the publicity the situation was receiving. He said,
“First of all. Let me be very clear. I don’t appreciate where you’re going with that. I’m not blaming anybody but Ime Udoka. He deserved to be fired if they were going to fire him. If you’re not going to fire him, then don’t fire him. My issue is all of this being publicized. The point that I’m trying to make…”
He also shut down Andrews after she cut him off mid-comment. Stephen A. Smith said,
“Excuse me. I listened to you. You’re the one telling me to stop on my show. It ain’t happening. Okay? That’s number 1. Number 2, I’ve already said, he deserves to be fired, or to be there and for them to handle it privately. If you’re not going to handle it privately, to publicize it in that fashion, then obviously it provokes everybody wanting to know okay, who are the parties involved?”
The two continued to go back and forth over the affair and the way it’s been handled, but ultimately seem to have ended things on an at least peaceful note.
As previously reported, Udoka has been suspended from his coaching position with the Celtics for an entire year after it was revealed he a consensual and intimate relationship with a woman who is also involved with the organization. The relationship between Udoka and the staff worker breached a violation of the organization’s guidelines.
Following his suspension, Udoka issued a statement in which he said,
“I want to apologize to our players, fans, the entire Celtics organization, and my family for letting them down. I am sorry for putting the team in this difficult situation, and I accept the team’s decision. Out of respect for everyone involved, I will have no further comment.”
Udoka had been in a relationship with actress Nia Long for 12 years and the two have been engaged for at least seven of those. The couple share a son, in addition to a son she has another son from a previous relationship.
Nia Long has also issued a statement on the matter, claiming she was blindsided by the news after moving two Boston two weeks ago to find a family home with Udoka. She said,
“The outpouring of love and support from family, friends and the community during this difficult time means so much to me. 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.”
What are your thoughts on the entire situation? Let us know in the comments!