Everyone who works for the NBA or one of its affiliates must always conduct themselves in a professional manner. However, the head coach is supposed to be the person in charge of the team. A head coach is like a general manager of a store. This person may not own the place, but he should be its respected leader.
Ime Udoka was not like that for Houston Rockets When he was ejected during Saturday night’s loss to Los Angeles Lakers After a fight with LeBron James.
Udoka spoke to James in a way that would start a mini-game fight. His words are now public because a lip reader has obtained some audio recordings from the game. “Stop playing like a bitch,” James complained in a phone call – shocking, I know – and Udoka shouted.
Again, yelling something like that at LA Fitness is going to stress someone out. In an NBA game, James knows better than to go after the opposing coach. Instead, he casually walked up to Udoka and told him not to talk like that anymore. The Rockets’ head coach then chose to serve as an instigator in a pick-up game, and asked James what he was going to do about it.
Udoka also allegedly called James a “soft boy.” a I take a closer look at Udoka’s face at that moment, it’s not really clear what he said after “soft”, so I’ll take @legendz_NBA’s word for it. Whatever Udoka said, the referee heard it and immediately issued a technical foul to both Udoka and James. It was Udoka’s second match and he was sent off.
After the match, Udoka did not apologize for the confrontation during his post-match press conference. He was asked to clarify who his statements were directed to, and he said, “The player.” also, When evaluating his team’s performance “Getting hit by a team that’s not known for their physicality or hitting people is not a good sign,” he said.
His opinion of the Lakers is clear. Since he’s been so vocal, it’s reasonable to assume he feels that way about the team’s star players, including James. Udoka can have any opinion he wants about others, but using insulting language toward an opposing player as the head coach of a basketball team is highly inappropriate behavior.
But hey, this is a guy who lost his job after one outstanding year as head coach of one of the leading franchises in all of professional sports – Boston Celtics. They hired an independent investigator and determined that Udoka had Inappropriate relationship With a subordinate and he was vulgar with her. They held him down all of last season and now he’s coaching a team with recent lottery picks and relying on Dillon Brooks for veteran leadership.
For Udoka to talk to the Lakers and James the way he did during an NBA basketball game, why do I think he learned his lesson? In front of a live studio audience, Udoka acted unprofessionally. He was the face of his privilege and spoke like a schoolyard bully.
I don’t expect the head coach of a basketball team, the general manager of a store, or the principal of a school to be a better person than the rest of us. However, I believe that as the public face of the organization, this person is paid to be the adult in the room at all times. Maturity is one of the most important parts of the job.
What Udoka did was not only incidental, but another mark against him as a leader. He’s a very good basketball coach. The Rockets are 8-9 and have already surpassed a third of their win total from last season. He has quality, he has the respect of the locker room and it is part of his job.
However, acting professionally seems to be a weakness. A weakness that actually cost him a great job. A result that doesn’t seem to have taught him the right lesson.