Retired NBA forward Matt Barnes has retracted earlier statements where he criticized the Boston Celtics basketball team for suspending head coach Ime Udoka over claims he cheated on his actress wife Nia Long with an unidentified female staffer.
Barnes, 42, originally slammed the suspension on Thursday, but reversed course on Friday after learning ‘all the facts,’ which he says are ‘100 times uglier than any of us thought’ adding how the truth behind the scandal is much worse than the public currently knows.
He made the updated comments in an Instagram story, claiming he’d initially believed the severity of the allegations had been exaggerated by the media.
Udoka was suspended late on Thursday night for the upcoming 2022-23 season over ‘multiple’ violations of team rules, involving a single female team staff member.
ESPN, The Athletic, and The Associated Press have since reported that Udoka was having an inappropriate, but consensual relationship with the woman.
Barnes took to Instagram once again and made his position clear in a lengthy, rambling video message.
Former NBA forward-turned-media personality Matt Barnes is walking back his criticism of the Celtics for suspending head coach Ime Udoka over a reported affair with a female staffer
‘Last night I spoke on this situation without having all the facts and I think as a part of the media, often the media speaks to something and when they’re wrong they won’t come out and say it. And since I’m a part of the media now and I try not to be like everyone else, I try to report and talk with facts and honesty…’ Barnes began.
‘I clearly have to say that last night, without knowing all the facts, I spoke on Ime Udoka’s defense and after finding out the facts, after I spoke, I erased what I posted,’ he explained.
‘This situation in Boston is deep, it’s messy and it’s 100 times uglier than any of us thought. That’s why I erased what I said. Some things happened that I can’t condone, I can’t back,’ Barnes surmised.
‘It’s not my place to tell you what happened. If it ends up coming out, it ends up going out. That is the reason I erased what I posted last night. After I posted it I got a call from someone who had all the details and this s**t is deep,’ Barnes revealed.
‘Man, I’m praying from everyone involved. Hope everyone gets through this. I saw a lot of blogs picked up what I said, even though it was only on the page for like two minutes, so hopefully they pick this up too, for me being wrong and jumping out there without the facts. God bless.’
Questions were raised about the relationship on Thursday night, with The Athletic reporting Udoka was accused by the woman of making ‘unwanted comments’ to her, prompting the Celtics to launch internal interviews that ultimately led to his suspension.
It was a complete reversal of Barnes’ previous musings in which he appeared to defend the affair noting how they were commonplace in professional sports franchises.
‘I played in the league for a long time. Anyone in the league could tell you this is a very common situation. This is not new news for people who’ve been in the league or around organizations. I’ve seen it from owners to executives, to coaches, to players, to trainers, to therapists, to dancers, to PR ladies. This is not uncommon,’ he stressed.
Nia Long with fiance Ime Udoka in 2017. He has been suspended as the head coach of the Boston Celtics for an inappropriate relationship with a female staffer, despite being engaged to Long
Earlier on Friday, Fresh Prince of Bel Air actress Nia Long broke her silence over the affair.
The starlet told TMZ in a statement that she was left ‘blindsided’ by the affair, that comes as she relocates to Boston to be with her longtime beau.
Long, 51, and Udoka, who previously played for the San Antonio Spurs, had been together for more than a decade.
They became engaged in 2015 but have never married, though they share a ten-year-old son. She also has another son from a previous relationship.
This week, their family bliss was destroyed when the Boston Celtics suspended Udoka for violating ethics rules by having a consensual affair with the unnamed staffer.
It’s believed that is how Long discovered the infidelity.
‘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.
Udoka, the Celtics’ second-year head coach with a once-sterling reputation, was suspended for all of the upcoming season on Thursday over ‘multiple’ unspecified violations of team rules.
In a statement on Thursday night, 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.’
Long with the couple’s ten-year-old son recently
Long, 51, and Udoka, 45, have been together for over a decade. They are shown together at the Barclays Center in New York last August
Incredulity: Nia’s fans and friends tweeted their rage and disbelief on Friday
Udoka is said to have suffered a ‘significant financial penalty’, though the amount has not been disclosed.
The 45-year-old is said to have had an improper relationship with a female member of staff.
That woman has not been named.
In the team statement naming assistant Joe Mazzulla as interim coach, Boston said Udoka’s future would be determined ‘at a later date.’
Long 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.
‘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.
American sweetheart: Long shot to fame in roles like Lisa Wilkes in the Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Brandi in Boyz In The Hood. She is well known for keeping clear of scandal, and only ever appearing in the press for her acting roles or activism
Udoka joined the Celtics as head coach in the 2021-2022 season.
While he was settling in, Nia and their ten-year-old son remained in New York City, where they live in Brooklyn.
Sources however say she was planning to relocate to Chicago to support her fiancé, and had been house hunting this week.
She became a national treasure in the 1990s with her roles in films and TV shows that celebrated black culture and featured predominantly black casts.
Long is also well-known for keeping herself clean of scandal – fans on Friday noted how she only ever appeared in the press for her acting roles or activist causes.
Udoka joined the Celtics as head coach last year. He is shown, left, playing for the San Antonio Spurs in 2007