Winston Churchill supposedly remarked Americans will always do the right thing after exhausting all other options. There is no proof he actually said this, but no matter. The sentiment still comes to mind when it comes to the raging tire fire in Brooklyn.
In short, just because the Nets finally managed to do the right thing does not mean they deserve to be celebrated. Or that the next wrong thing they clearly plan to do should be excused.
Sorry, but owner Joseph Tsai and general manager Sean Marks do not get pats on the back for sending Kyrie Irving home on the fourth try. That they finally realized Irving is “currently unfit to be associated” with their franchise after his disastrous media session Thursday (and a love tap from NBA commissioner Adam Silver) is nothing to celebrate. And doing the bare minimum should not earn them the right to hire disgraced Celtics coach Ime Udoka in the coming days without scrutiny.
On Irving: The Nets should have disciplined him when he initially promoted a heinous antisemitic film on Twitter. Or after he doubled down on it (and his Alex Jones affinity) in a disastrous postgame press conference. Or the shameless non-apology apology — one the Nets enabled by joining forces with Irving to try to throw money at the Anti-Defamation League in an effort to make it all go away. But they did not. And they only acted once Irving left them no more sand to bury their heads in.
So now Irving will go away for at least five games. And likely many more than that. He may have finally apologized on Instagram, but that was clearly a gesture made under duress. Irving made his true feelings quite clear during this whole disgraceful charade. And no one should believe for a second he has any intention to handle the “series of objective remedial measures” that will be a condition of his reinstatement.
It is much more likely Irving will decide to sit at home — or even retire — to keep his martyr act going. Or that the Nets will find a trade partner even more cynical than them, like the Lakers, and offload him. And if Ingram does check the boxes (or the Nets lose enough games in his absence) in order to return, it is inevitable he will pull another stunt in due time. And we will start the cycle anew.
As for Udoka: He is obviously a good coach. He went to the NBA Finals in his first year after Brad Stevens — another objectively good coach — failed to get there in eight. So the fact the Celtics suspended him for an entire season speaks to just how egregious they believe his misconduct to be. And now he gets to slink off to a new job before Thanksgiving and all is well?
We do not know the full details of what transpired with Udoka. But reporting indicates he had an inappropriate relationship with a female subordinate and engaged in crude behavior. The Celtics commissioned an independent investigation and dropped the hammer on him. And we are to expect the Nets — an organization that just so thoroughly botched the Irving debacle — somehow know better?
To hire Udoka would send a horrible message not just to the Nets’ female employees and fans, but all of their employees and fans. Actually, it would just reinforce the same message: That winning is the only thing that matters. Even in cases of antisemitism and sexual impropriety.
And again, we ask: Where the hell is Silver? If he is trying to flex soft power behind the scenes, he had better stop. That strategy failed miserably with Irving. One of your flagship franchises was so appalled by Udoka’s actions it took unprecedented measures. And then you will then let one of your most incompetent ones throw him a life jacket? The Celtics are not going to let Udoka walk for free because they think he deserves it. Only because that means they are no longer hurtling toward litigation over his contract.
The Nets clearly plan to hire Udoka. And they have clearly been working on this for a while. Steve Nash had not even left the Barclays Center before the NBA insiders were carrying water for the impending move. The process has likely been slowed because of the Irving scandal, but Marks and Tsai are still going to do it. They have no shame. And since they are in so deep, they feel they have no choice. That does not mean Silver should allow it, though. Or that the rest of the world should stand by idly just because they finally backed into action on Irving. It does not work that way. And it should not.
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James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]