ESPN analyst Jalen Rose found himself quickly apologizing on the air Friday for an aside about suspended Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka.
Speaking during ESPN's "NBA Countdown" show before a game between the Celtics and Chicago Bulls, Rose questioned why the woman at the center of the sexual misconduct allegations against Udoka had not been publicly identified:
"We know [Udoka's] name. Maybe I'm missing something as it relates to the law, but don't we know her name? It's not like she's a minor. I feel like we should know her name publicly as well."
Udoka was suspended for the season after allegations of an inappropriate workplace relationship came to light. While the relationship was initially reported as consensual, the woman's status as Udoka's subordinate and alleged crude language and unwanted advances on the coach's part complicated an already messy situation.
At halftime of the Bulls-Celtics game, Rose delivered a quick apology.
ESPN came back from commercial, had Jalen Rose apologize for a comment he made on the preshow, then went back to commercial... 😭😭😭 pic.twitter.com/nqfu3Qr1B4
— 𝗙𝗢𝗟𝗟𝗢𝗪 @𝗙𝗧𝗕𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗱𝟳 (@FTBeard7) November 5, 2022
"I'm Jalen Rose and I would like to apologize for a comment I made earlier on NBA Countdown. I questioned why a woman's name, who had an alleged affair with Celtics head coach Ime Udoka, was not made public. After an internal investigation and it was discovered that she was a subordinate to the head coach, I now understand fully why her name should not be released to the public."
Why alleged victims of sexual misconduct aren't publicly identified
It is common practice in journalism, and in most legal cases, to not publicly identify alleged victims of sexual misconduct.
This is done to prevent harassment and retaliation against them, especially in high-profile cases where there is a massive power (and popularity) imbalance between the accused and accuser. Considering how many women in the Celtics organization were harassed online in the immediate aftermath of the "consensual" relationship being reported, it's hard not to say that approach was vindicated.
When a woman sees public repercussions for speaking out or reporting sexual misconduct, it also makes it less likely women watching will report their own problems.
Rose's initial comments missed the subsequent ugliness that was reported on Udoka's connection with the woman, and his apology merely concedes that she was his subordinate, which by itself makes Udoka's alleged conduct problematic since it's hard for a relationship to be truly consensual when one party is in charge of the other.
Considering there seems to be so much we still don't know — and may never know — about the Udoka situation, it's for the best that the woman involved isn't being turned into a public figure, especially when it has been reported she received unwanted advances from her boss before accepting them, then had many in the basketball world blame her for what happened.