It’s been a great week for internet sleuths. First, they were busy trying to get to the bottom of Adam Levine’s scummy ways. They wanted to figure out just how many women there really were after social media influencer Sumner Stroh dropped a bomb earlier this week. Now, the attention has turned to Celtics head coach Ime Udoka, also the five-year fiancé of actress Nia Long, after Shams Charania from The Atlantic reported on an affair he’d been having with a team staffer.
When Sumner Stroh revealed her relationship with Adam Levine, she gave hungry sleuths a lot of information that otherwise, they would have had to go digging for. She said she made her revelations after finding out that a friend of hers was trying to sell the story to a tabloid. She got in front of the story, telling it from her side, and it’s safe to say it worked in her favour. Sure, there were a lot of people who criticized her for having inappropriate conversations with a married man, which she maintains she’s accountable and apologetic for, but for the most part, everyone was united in their disgust with Adam Levine (and subsequently, the whole of Maroon 5. Sorry guys).
That same sense of unison is what we saw when social media threw their support, almost unanimously, behind Nia Long. Twitter isn’t typically the place you go to if you’re looking for Woodstock ’69 (NOT ’99) vibes, but it’s as if we all agree that Nia Long has worked hard to stay out of the headlines and that she deserved a lot better than this from the father of her child and partner since 2009 and fiance since 2017.
Luckily for the sleuths, they had a lot more components to solve with Ime than Adam. Upon the first reports of his infidelity, people got straight to work trying to figure out who the woman was. They had to get creative, and some resorted to pulling up lists and directories of the entire Celtics staff. Armed with the knowledge of there only being a few female staff members on the Celtics, people quickly honed in on two. One Twitter user suggested that both women were married, revealing one had deleted all of her social media Thursday and saying the second woman disabled comments on her posts.
As I sat there about to do my own cross-referencing of facts, I paused and allowed myself to just get lost in this stage of the investigation. I laughed at memes, almost spitting my drink out at some really funny Ime and Adam comparisons that sent me into hysterics. At this point, does everything need to be verified? Or can we all just agree that this code cracking and speculation is the most fun we’ve had on Twitter in a while?
There are the times when internet sleuthing actually does make a difference. Like in the Gabby Petito case – where posts on social media inspired a woman who was also a van life traveller to revisit Gabby’s last known location. She was able to produce a solid tip to law enforcement when a video her and her partner had recorded showed the van Gabby and Brian Laundrie were travelling in, clear as day. This sparked a search near the area and her body was found shortly after.
I get why social media is the place to be when stories – whether affairs, crimes, mysteries or just plain old weird shit – starts to surface. It’s like we’re all in some escape room and the only way out is to get to the bottom of the mystery. Because really, that’s what it is. We’re trying to get to the 5 Ws. Who is right and wrong? Who are the key players involved? What happened? Where? When? Most importantly – why.
That seems to be everyone’s question for Ime. Why would you cheat on Nia Long? The woman followed him to San Antonio and ultimately Boston (a very difficult city for Black people to feel accepted in, might I add) for his basketball career. This is how he repays her?
When she posted a now-expired story on Instagram from a page dedicated to healing and wellness, the video referenced positivity, spirituality and finding the light after the darkness. What does that mean? Did she know? It’s certainly a question worth asking considering the couple’s five-year engagement. And it’s no shade to long engagements, especially considering what COVID did to the wedding industry over the last few years. Who knows? Maybe their long-term engagement was an agreed upon compromise if one or both parties didn’t care too much for marriage. But at the same time, this is her long-time partner of over a decade. She was very committed to him and their family, even following him to San Antonio and Boston when his job required relocating.
I’ve written in the past about all the open relationships and polyamory that goes on in Hollywood, so I’m no stranger to the flux in relationships, particularly celebrity relationships. But something I find interesting and puzzling after a week of infidelity news is why it always seems to be the men that cheat? Certainly women cheat, too – and it seemed like in the early 2000s and early 2010s there was a lot more talk about this. Kristen Stewart got caught in the act in 2012, and just two years prior, Whoopi Goldberg spoke out on The View amid the Jesse James and Sandra Bullock mess, discussing her own infidelity. Why, lately, has the pendulum swung to men dominating the infidelity sector?
The other interesting thing that we’re seeing unfold in the social media trial of Ime is the convergence of sports fans and pop culture internet sleuths – two very different groups. It’s as if we’re watching the two groups come together to share information that’s vital to each party to decode the mystery. Sports fans have the knowledge while the sleuths have the tactics. One lead from the sports camp and the sleuths are on their way to cracking the whole case wide open.
Ime’s suspension for the 2022-2023 season was confirmed last night, with the Celtics citing team policy violations. It’s an untimely suspension for hopeful Celtics fans, and the players, too, as they’re days away from beginning training camp. In the 2021-2022 season, Ime led the team to their first NBA Finals playoffs since 2010. And that was only his first year taking over the role as head coach. There was a lot of promise under his leadership. But a crucial part of leadership is ethics, and as he’s proven, that’s not his forte.
Ethical leader or not, his “crime” really calls into question the standard for how we issue penalties – and not the ones during the game. We’ve seen some truly heinous behaviour from athletes ranging from Floyd Mayweather to Ray Rice, caught on camera knocking his fiancée out in an elevator, only landing a two game suspension, to Deshaun Watson. Ime did none of those things. He cheated on his partner in what, by all appearances, was a consensual relationship. Perhaps the sports industry needs to reconsider where they draw the line?
He issued a very bland apology to fans, the Celtics organization and lastly, his family. This, of course, sent Twitter into haywire as they criticized him for not only fumbling his relationship with goddess Nia Long, but his bag as well.
Who knows what happens next – for Nia, Ime, Adam, Behati and Sumner and maybe for the NBA as a whole on these types of affairs. But I’m sure the internet sleuths are already waiting for their next case and have every intention of keeping us informed.