The looming financial impact of the Ime Udoka scandal
By: Ethan Hill
Oct. 25, 2022
Photo Credit: Associated Press
Near the conclusion of the 2021-22 NBA season, the Boston Celtics and head coach Ime Udoka were crowned Eastern Conference Champions and competed in the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010. Just four months later, Udoka and the Celtics organization are at the center of one the most unusual and appalling scandals in the league’s recent history.
Although fans and analysts alike believed the Celtics were primed for another deep playoff run this season, the details of this situation have raised a multitude of questions.
The suspension of Ime Udoka and the damage to the reputation of the Celtics organization will raise concerns about both team and financial performance as the 2022-23 season progresses.
It was announced that the Celtics would be suspending Udoka for the entirety of the 2022-23 season, after his involvement in a consensual but improper relationship with a female staff member.
Their head coach slated to miss the entire season poses the question: Can the Celtics still meet on-court expectations?
In Udoka’s first season with the team last year, the Celtics achieved a record of 51-31 and reached the NBA Finals. Just a year prior, the Celtics finished 41-41, losing in the first round of the NBA Playoffs with a roster almost identical to that of last season. This statistical comparison is unsettling for the upcoming season, for which Udoka will not be present on the Celtics bench.
If players fail to reach expectations under interim head coach Joe Mazzulla, the ruthless Boston fanbase is sure to lose confidence in the Celtics organization. As a result, the scandal and Udoka’s suspension could result in diminished team performance, ticket sales, and merchandise sales for the Celtics this season.
Additionally, the Celtics organization levied stern financial penalties on Udoka following the announcement of his suspension. It was recently announced that Udoka will be fined for his violation of team policies, but they have not yet specified an amount. However, analysts have already stated that Udoka is likely to lose up to half of his salary this season.
Although Udoka’s salary information is not publicly available, as a first-year coach, it is assumed that Udoka has an annual salary of roughly $3 million. If Udoka were to be docked half of his salary this season, he could lose more than $1.5 million. That loss would be just the fourth fine in NBA history to reach the million-dollar mark.
Typically, fines are both administered and collected by the NBA. While the league claims that once paid, fines are allocated to charities, the NBA is curiously the only professional sports organization that privatizes the charities that receive donations. This decision could be due to the fact that NBA fines are not directly paid to charities. Fines are split equally between the league and the NBA Players Association. Each group then decides which charity will receive a donation.
What makes Udoka’s fine intriguing is the fact that it will be handled by the Celtics organization, which means that the money will likely stay in-house with no obligations to make a donation to charity. As this situation unfolds, questions regarding team performance, financial drawbacks, and Udoka’s return to the team will continue to develop. Will the Celtics have answers?