After defending Ime Udoka, ex-NBA player Matt Barnes claims situation is ‘100 times uglier than any of us thought’

“Some things happened that I can’t condone, I can’t back, and it’s not my place to tell you what happened."

Ime Udoka received a yearlong suspension from the Celtics on Thursday. Eric Espada/Getty

Less than 24 hours after he defended Ime Udoka and questioned why Udoka received a yearlong suspension, former NBA player Matt Barnes not only backtracked his statement, but also took a stance against the Celtics coach.

After making the post that defended Udoka on Thursday night, Barnes said that he got a call from some that “had all the details – this [expletive] is deep.”

“I try to report and talk with facts and honesty and I clearly have to say last night without knowing all the facts,” Barnes said in an Instagram post Friday. “I spoke on Ime Udoka’s defense. After finding out the facts after I spoke, I erased what I posted because this situation in Boston is deep, it’s messy, it’s 100 times uglier than any of us thought. That’s why I erased what I said.”

Barnes – who contributes to ESPN’s NBA coverage and is co-host of the “All The Smoke” podcast, one of the most popular basketball podcasts – said he didn’t want to reveal exactly what he’s heard, but it was enough for him to drop his defense of Udoka.


“It’s messy,” Barnes said. “Some things happened that I can’t condone, I can’t back, and it’s not my place to tell you what happened. If it ends up coming out, it ends up coming out.”

When the Celtics announced the suspension on Thursday night, Barnes posted on Instagram that consensual relationships within NBA teams are “not uncommon,” and that it was a “terrible decision.” He also questioned why Udoka received a similar suspension to Suns owner Robert Sarver, who received a yearlong suspension due to a history of racist and misogynistic comments.

However, some news has trickled out on Udoka’s conduct since then. Prior to Barnes’s post on Friday, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Udoka made “unwanted comments” to the woman with whom he had an alleged affair.

Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck confirmed Friday that Udoka had multiple violations of the team’s conduct policy, though didn’t explicitly state what the coach did. He also didn’t commit to Udoka returning to the team when his suspension ends on June 30, 2023.


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