Chris Ford NBA Champ, Coach Dead At 74

NBA champion and former coach Chris Ford -- credited with making the first three-point basket in league history -- has died, his family announced Wednesday. He was 74 years old.

"Chris was beloved by his family, friends, and teammates," his family said in a statement. "He had a great love for his family, the city of Boston, the fans, and the entire Celtics family. He always showed humility and respect for all those that were fortunate enough to be a part of his life."

The C's also addressed Ford's passing ... saying, "The Boston Celtics sends their deepest sympathies to the Ford family and their many friends."

The Pistons selected Chris in the second round of the 1972 NBA draft ... and he spent his first seven seasons with Detroit before joining the Celtics.

Chris played the final four years of his career with Boston ... and was a vital member of the 1981 team that won a championship over the Houston Rockets.

Ford won two more NBA titles with the Celtics in 1984 and 1986 as an assistant coach ... and became the eleventh head coach in franchise history in 1990.

As head coach, Ford led his former teammates Larry Bird, Robert Parrish and Kevin McHale to the playoffs several times.

Ford also coached Bird, Isiah Thomas, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing in the 1991 All-Star Game.

RIP

Enes Kanter Freedom Labeled 'Terrorist' In Turkey ... $530K Bounty On Head

Enes Kanter Freedom -- an outspoken critic of human rights violations worldwide -- has been declared one of Turkey's most wanted terrorists ... with the government issuing a $530K bounty for information leading to the arrest of the former NBA player.

According to the Turkish Minute, Turkey's Interior Ministry issued its “Terrorist Wanted List", which included the 30-year-old longtime NBA player, accused of being a member of a terrorist organization.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the gov. also put up a reward of 10 million Turkish liras -- equivalent to around $532K U.S. dollars -- for anyone who puts Kanter behind bars.

“I’m not the only one. There are so many innocent journalists, academics, athletes, activists and educators on this list. Now their lives are in danger because of the Turkish government,” Enes told TM.

Freedom hasn't been shy when criticizing Erdogan over the years, previously referring to the leader as a "dictator" and the "Hitler of our century."

"Because of my platform, whenever I say something, it goes everywhere, and the Turkish government hates that," Freedom told the NY Post this week. "They’re really sick of it, and they said, ‘Enough is enough,’ and doing whatever they can to shut me up."

Kanter, who legally changed his name to Enes Kanter Freedom, spent 13 seasons in the NBA ... playing for the Jazz, Thunder, Knicks, Trailblazers, and, most recently, the Boston Celtics in 2021-22. He became a U.S. citizen in 2021.

Despite the bounty recently being issued, the Turkish government has been trying to silence Kanter for years. Now, however, Enes is concerned for his safety, believing he will now be the target of not just the government.

“That makes it so dangerous,” Kanter said to the Post.

“Before the bounty, Turkish intelligence was after the people on the list, but now everyone is after them because they want the money.”

Enes is one of the most outspoken athletes in the world ... regularly calling out human rights abuses across the world. Kanter hasn't spared his league, the NBA ... ripping the Association and stars like LeBron James for doing business with China, among other issues.

Clipper Darrell KO'ed In Altercation At Clippers Game ... Video Shows

12/12/22
THE BRUTAL KNOCKOUT
TMZSports.com

Clipper Darrell -- the most famous L.A. Clippers fan -- was knocked out during an altercation at a game on Monday ... new video, obtained by TMZ Sports, shows.

In the footage, you can see Darrell -- real name Darrell Bailey -- in his famous half-red, half-blue suit ... standing with a Crypto.com Arena security guard following the Clippers' game against the Boston Celtics.

The two seem to be in some sort of argument ... where the man wearing a red polo appears to be preventing Clipper Darrell from moving through a concourse at the NBA arena.

At one point, the man can be seen in the video putting his elbow near Darrell's neck in what seems to be an effort to keep him from advancing. Darrell, the footage shows, then swiped at the man's arm to get it off of him.

That's when the man in the red balled up his fist and swung on Clipper Darrell -- connecting straight with the superfan's jaw.

Darrell crashed into a nearby trash receptacle ... and appeared to lose consciousness.

Crypto.com Arena President Lee Zeidman tells us ... the altercation all started after the security officer tried to direct Darrell and other departing fans to nearby exits.

"Clipper Darrell became involved in a verbal and then physical altercation," Zeidman said. "After receiving immediate medical attention, Darryl was transported to a nearby hospital for further evaluation and treatment."

"An investigation of the incident was launched which determined the employee’s behavior to be a direct violation of our training and approved responses resulting in the immediate termination and arrest of the employee by the LAPD."

Clipper Darrell told us on Wednesday morning he's suffering from headaches ... and is still in a lot of pain. He added that he's currently on medication to try to alleviate some of his symptoms.

Sources close to the Clippers, meanwhile, tell us the team is aware of the incident.

JULY 2019
A NEW ERA!!!
TMZSports.com

Clipper Darrell has been a Clips season ticket holder for two decades -- and has gained notoriety for loudly leading taunts and cheers throughout L.A. games.

In fact, he was seen at one point on Monday night jeering Blake Griffin during L.A.'s 113-93 win over the Celtics.

Ben Affleck Sittin' Courtside With My Boy ... Guy's Night At Lakers-Celtics Game

Ben Affleck made his annual visit to the Lakers-Celtics game in L.A., hitting the Crypto.com arena with his 10-year-old son, Samuel, where the guys sat courtside for an absolute thriller!

Ben, a huge Celts fan from Boston (and every other team in Beantown), and Sam, watched the Lakers battle back from 20 down, before rallying back. The game went to overtime and the Celtics ultimately won, 122-118.

Surprisingly, Ben and Sam weren't decked out in Celtics gear ... except for the actor's pair of green Nikes -- a nod to his home team.

Affleck wasn't the only celeb in the building ... Floyd Mayweather, Lou Adler and Hailey Bieber also attended the game.

BASKETBALL BONDING

For Ben, attending the Lakers vs. Celtics game in Los Angeles is somewhat of a yearly tradition. In fact, last December Affleck hit up the game with Jennifer Lopez ... and the couple packed on the PDA!

12/07/21
LOVE IN THE AIR
PrettyLittleThing

It looks like Ben and Samuel had a blast. As for the thousands of Lakers fans -- not soo much!

Until next year!

Report: Nia Long Splits From Coach Ime Udoka ... After Affair With Team Employee

Nia Long and Ime Udoka are done -- the couple of 13 years has reportedly broken up after the Boston Celtics coach's affair with a team employee.

The news comes less than three months after the Boston Celtics suspended Udoka for the entire 2022-23 season for violating team policy ... a public scandal that Long said was "devastating."

As TMZ Sports previously reported, Udoka had an inappropriate relationship with the Celtics' travel planner ... who was in charge of booking Long's flights to attend home and road games -- as well as her arrangements to move to Boston permanently.

The fallout was apparently too much to recover from ... as People reports the two sides have called it quits on their relationship and are now focused on co-parenting their 11-year-old son, Kez.

Long recently sounded off on the Celtics for airing out their dirty laundry ... saying, "I think the most heartbreaking thing about all of this was seeing my son’s face when the Boston Celtics organization decided to make a very private situation public."

Udoka remains suspended from the Celtics ... but was rumored to be Steve Nash's replacement at the head of the Brooklyn Nets bench. The team ultimately decided to go with Jacque Vaughn.

FOUL AFFAIR
TMZ.com

Long and Udoka first met in 2010 when the ex-NBAer was a member of the Sacramento Kings. They were engaged in 2015 ... but did not end up getting hitched.

Nia Long Udoka Scandal 'Was Devastating' ... Blasts Celtics Org, Too

Nia Long is finally breaking her silence on the cheating scandal involving her fiancé, suspended Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka -- saying she was devastated when the news broke two months ago ... and still is.

As we previously reported, Udoka -- hired as the Celtics HC last year -- was shelved for the entire 2022-23 season in September ... after having an inappropriate relationship with a female staff, violating team policy.

Long -- who got engaged to Udoka in 2015 and has an 11-year-old son with the coach -- hasn't spoken publicly about the scandal until recently doing an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

"I think the most heartbreaking thing about all of this was seeing my son’s face," the actress said, "when the Boston Celtics organization decided to make a very private situation public."

"It was devastating, and it still is."

The "Friday" actress -- who did not discuss her relationship status with Udoka -- also called out the Celtics for not reaching out when they revealed the personal details of the scandal.

"If you're in the business of protecting women — I’m sorry, no one from the Celtics organization has even called to see if I’m OK, to see if my children are OK. It’s very disappointing.”

In spite of that, Long said she had "a tribe of women and men" instead ... protecting and comforting her through this difficult time.

Plus, Long is looking forward to directing her first film ... and it's a love story.

"I have to commit myself to that because I think sometimes when so much is happening, it takes your breath away and then it’s like you’re holding your breath, and you feel this angst and this panic of constantly being in fight-or-flight survival mode," Long said.

"I think mothers, Black women, we understand that more than anyone."

Prince William & Kate Holding Court at Celtics Game ... Collision Course with Harry & Meghan Doc

Prince William and Kate Middleton spent their first night in the U.S. at a Celtics game, as one Royal controversy has exploded and another is on the way.

The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge were front and center at the Celtics game Wednesday night against the Miami Heat -- they're in town for Friday's Earthshot Prize Awards Ceremony ... created by William to find solutions for global warming.

UNROYAL WELCOME
Twitter/@avicarrgloth

When they popped up on the jumbotron, there was a smattering ... maybe more than a smattering of boos. Now we all know that's the way Boston fans roll, but their appearance came just hours after William's Godmother, Lady Susan Hussey, stepped down from her Royal duties after asking some racist questions at an event.

And, then there's Harry and Meghan ... hours after the game Netflix dropped a trailer for their upcoming documentary, and it's clear as day they're going after the fam. Harry says, "No one sees what goes on behind closed doors. I had to do everything I could to protect my family."

The two brothers will NOT see each other during William's 3-day stay in the States. So much for a reconciliation after the Queen's death.

The timing couldn't be worse for the Royals ... the Lady Hussey scandal brought racist allegations back to the forefront, and the "Harry & Meghan" doc will almost certainly stoke those flames.

Jaylen Brown I'll Sponsor Any Hoops Event ... Willing To Host Donda

Jaylen Brown says he feels terrible for the talented young men on the Donda Academy hoops roster who are missing out on opportunities because of Kanye West ... so he's doing something about it -- by offering to sponsor any event that will host the team.

Brown took to Twitter on Friday to announce his plan ... explaining kids shouldn't be punished for West's antisemitic rants.

"These student-athletes can’t be negatively impacted by this," 26-year-old Brown said. "We all must ensure they complete their senior yr both academically & athletically."

Remember, Donda Academy's hoops team was booted from the Scholastic Play-by-Play Classics -- a high-profile tournament -- over Ye's controversial comments.

The tourney explained the decision in a statement ... saying, "Kanye's words and actions violate our values as a company and a country, and what we seek to ensure at all of our events -- a spirit of diversity, sportsmanship, inclusion, equity, and mutual respect."

"Unfortunately, we cannot in good conscience host an organization founded and directed by Mr. West at our events."

The tourney is a huge deal ... which is why Brown is so passionate about ensuring the players -- including five-star guards Robert Dillingham and AJ Johnson -- have a chance to showcase their talents.

As we previously reported, Jaylen and Rams star Aaron Donald announced their departure from Ye's Donda Sports company amid the backlash surrounding the embroiled artist.

Brown initially said he would remain with Donda -- but had a change of heart and apologized, saying, "I've been able to reflect and better understand how my previous statements lack clarity in expressing my stance against recent insensitive public remarks and actions."

Jaylen also expressed that despite terminating his association with Donda Sports ... he remains committed to uplifting the community as he has been doing throughout his life.

Celtics' Grant Williams Suspended One Game Without Pay ... For Making Contact With Referee

The Celtics will be without Grant Williams for one game -- the NBA just suspended the forward after making contact with a referee during Boston's matchup against the Bulls this week.

The call was made during the 4th quarter of the Celtics game on Oct. 24 ... after Williams was charged with a blocking foul against Zach LaVine.

The 6'6" baller disagreed with the call and unintentionally bumped into referee Cheryl Flores as he got up with frustration.

Williams was immediately ejected for making contact ... and he was so pissed, he had to be forced into the United Center tunnel by Celtics coaching staffers.

The NBA's Executive VP Joe Dumars announced Williams was suspended for one game without pay "for recklessly making contact with and directing inappropriate language toward a game official."

This means Williams -- who's averaging 9.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game so far this season -- will be out for Friday's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers ... leaving the Celtics without one of their key role players in a tough matchup with an Eastern Conference opponent.

Aaron Donald, Jaylen Brown Leaving Donda Sports ... Amid Kanye Controversy

Aaron Donald and Jaylen Brown are no longer Donda Sports athletes -- the two superstars just released statements saying they have cut ties with Kanye West over his antisemitic comments.

TMZ Sports broke the story ... Donald signed with Ye's Donda Sports in late May. At the time, he said it was the company's "whole family atmosphere" that convinced him to sign with West.

Brown followed right after ... signing with DS later that month.

Donda Sports started off hot with two huge names in their respective sports. Now, the organization has zero clients on its athletic roster.

Donald released a statement on Tuesday ... saying, "The recent comments and displays of hate and antisemitism are the exact opposite of how we choose to live our lives and raise our children. We find them to be irresponsible and go against everything we believe in as a family."

He added ... "As parents and members of society, we felt a responsibility to send a clear message that hateful words and actions have consequences and that we must do better as human beings. We do not feel our beliefs, voices and actions belong anywhere near a space that misrepresents and oppresses people of any background, ethnicity or race."

Brown -- who denounced Kanye's statements on Monday, but said he would remain with Donda -- also addressed his change of heart ... saying, "In the past 24 hours, I've been able to reflect and better understand how my previous statements lack clarity in expressing my stance against recent insensitive public remarks and actions. For that, I apologize."

"And in this, I seek to be as clear as possible. I have always, and will always, continue to stand strongly against antisemitism, hate speech, misrepresentation, and oppressive rhetoric of any kind."

He continued ... "In light of that, after sharing in conversations, I now recognize that there are times when my voice and my position can't coexist in spaces that don't correspond with my stance or my values. And for that, I am terminating my association with Donda Sports."

Jaylen Brown Sticking With Donda Sports ... Amid Kanye Backlash

Jaylen Brown says he's sticking with Donda Sports, despite repeated antisemitic remarks made by founder Kanye West ... comments the Celtics star says he adamantly condemns.

On Monday, Jaylen was asked about his business relationship with Ye's company, telling the Boston Globe he won't be jumping ship.

"First, I don’t condone any hurt, harm, or danger toward any group of people or individuals whatsoever," said Brown, who joined Donda Sports in May shortly after Rams star Aaron Donald.

Brown said despite the criticism embroiling West, he's more focused on the agency's mission and positive impact.

"The reason why I signed with Donda Sports, it represented education, it represented activism, disruption, it represented single-parent households, and a lot more people are involved in something like that."

Of course, Kanye has repeatedly made antisemitic comments ... 'cause lucrative business partners like Balenciaga dropped him. Adidas, his biggest partner, has faced tremendous pressure to part ways with Ye.

10/15/22
CHAUVIN DIDN'T KILL FLOYD
REVOLT

Brown defined his current relationship with West as a "sensitive subject," adding that it's hard to comment on it because it's being "evaluated."

"He’s someone who's obviously dealing with a lot of adversity that’s in front of him right now, and everybody can see it, and it’s public," 26-year-old Brown said.

"But a lot of people in the world are dealing with adversity and things that are going on that’s in front of them, and they need help. It's a lot going on right now.”

Boston Celtics Honoring Bill Russell ... W/ New Uniforms

The Boston Celtics came up with a special way to honor Bill Russell this season ... with the late Hall of Famer getting a tribute on the team's alternate jersey.

The Cs made the announcement on Monday via IG with photos of Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, and Grant Williams rockin' the new gear -- and they're pretty dope.

The jerseys are dark green, black, and gold featuring 11 gold diamonds on the sides ... to symbolize the number of NBA championships Russell had won during his career.

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

There's also another set of 11 gold diamonds surrounding Russell's No. 6 jersey number on the waistband ... and the new scripted Celtics wordmark was inspired by Slade’s Bar & Grill, a spot that was owned by Russell in the 1960s.

The Celtics also shared a tribute video of the jersey release ... showing throwback highlights of Russell and what he meant not only to the NBA but to the world.

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

"Paying homage to a true champion," Celtics said in the caption, "and the Gold Standard of what it means to be a Celtic ☘️."

FYI, Russell -- who played center for the C's from 1956 to 1969 -- helped design the city edition unis with the team before he passed this July at the age of 88.

The Celtics will wear the tribute gear 11 times this year -- another homage to his title wins -- and will start with their season opener against the 76ers on Tuesday.

The NBA permanently retired Russell's No. 6 jersey across the league in July.

Metta Sandiford-Artest Buying Blake Griffin's #91 Jersey ... Thanks To Rodman Tribute

PRIVATE PALS
TMZSports.com

Metta Sandiford-Artest just became a big Blake Griffin fan ... and it's all a result of the new Celtics forward's decision to rock #91 in honor of the great Hall of Famer, Dennis Rodman!!

TMZ Sports spoke with Metta out in Beverly Hills this week ... and he was pleasantly surprised to learn Griffin was paying respect to Rodman's legacy with his jersey number this season.

"That's incredible," the 2003-04 Defensive Player of the Year said about Griffin's number change. "That's great to hear. I'm a big Rodman fan, and now I'll buy the jersey."

Griffin -- who signed with the Boston Celtics as a free agent last week -- confirmed to reporters after his first practice with his new teammates that the reason he is going to wear the #91 is to pay homage to Rodman, the 5-time NBA champ.

Artest -- who played 17 seasons in the NBA with the Pacers, Knicks, Kings, Rockets, Lakers, and Bulls -- earned a reputation for his physical style of defense ... and was one of four players to wear the #91 in NBA history.

The other three are Mindaugas Kuzminskas (New York Knicks), Deividas Sirvydis (Detroit Pistons) ... and, of course, Rodman.

There's more -- Metta retired from the NBA in 2017, but it may not be long before we see another Artest in the association -- because MSA tells us both of his sons are still pursuing their hoop dreams.

"They both play basketball, they love it, and we have a good time."

Nia Long Mum on Ime's Cheating ... 1st Time Seen Since Scandal

SILENT ON UDOKA
BACKGRID

Nia Long doesn't have much to say about her partner's cheating scandal -- but her body language and accessories speak volumes.

The actress was approached by a photog Saturday in L.A. -- where she surfaced for the first time with her son, Kez -- and the obvious was asked ... how's she feeling about the fact that Celtics HC Ime Udoka was found to have been in an extramarital affair with a staffer?

She stayed mostly silent, saying she didn't want to comment -- but when asked if she's working things out with Ime, watch how she reacts ... it's telling. Since the news broke of her fiancé's infidelity, she's kept a low profile -- and hasn't been seen publicly until now.

Also of note ... it doesn't look like Nia's wearing her engagement ring, although she doesn't always rock it when out and about. Still, at a time like this -- it seems important.

As we reported ... sources tell us Nia felt blindsided by the whole thing, especially since he had moved her and their kid to Boston somewhat recently -- even though the investigation had been taking place for months, with no one giving her a heads up until it hit the fan.

BACK IN PUBLIC

We've also been told that the cheating hits close to home -- because the woman with whom Ime hooked up was actually known to Nia personally. She actually helped Nia move to Boston, and was involved in team-related travel too.

Ime was suspended for the upcoming NBA season, and apologized. The couple's been together since 2010, and got engaged in 2015. They're not married, but share one son ... Kez.

Celtics' Jaylen Brown On Ime Udoka Scandal ... 'Shocked' & 'Confused' Over It All

Celtics star Jaylen Brown admits he was blindsided by the allegations against Boston head coach Ime Udoka ... saying he was both "shocked" and "confused" over it all.

Brown made the revelation after he was asked by reporters at the team's media day on Monday what his reaction was when he found out Udoka had been accused of having a consensual relationship with a female Celtics staffer -- all allegedly while he was still dating Nia Long.

"My initial reaction, we were all shocked at what was going on," Brown said ... before adding, "A little confused a little bit, but a lot of information wasn't being shared with us."

Brown -- who's been with the Celtics the last six seasons -- said there have been no conversations between him and Udoka since the coach was suspended for the scandal.

Jayson Tatum also spoke about Udoka and the season-long suspension levied against the C's head man ... calling it "a lot to process."

"Coming into this season," the star wing said, "you feel a certain way, and coming off last year, you're excited. Trying to do all these things."

"Along with everyone else, just still trying to process it all, knowing we start practice tomorrow."

NBC Sports Boston reporter Amanda Pflugrad also called out the Celtics at the start of Monday's event ... as well as the social media users who posted the names of female employees to speculate on the identity of the staffer.

UNCALLED FOR ATTACKS
Boston Celtics

"Every woman in our organization has worked extremely hard to get where she is at, and she deserves and earns everything that she has right now," she said. "For things in the Celtics, and what we’re doing moving forward, things do need to change. You need to stand up, support us and hear us."

Udoka, who led the Celtics to the NBA Finals this past season, will be out for the entire 2022-23 season ... and team owner Wyc Grousbeck said last week the suspension could go on even longer than that.

Ime Udoka Affair Staffer Handled His Travel ... Including Nia's Boston Move

The Celtics employee with whom Ime Udoka had an affair helped make all his travel arrangements ... and that job sometimes included organizing travel for his fiancee, Nia Long.

Sources connected to the couple and the NBA franchise tell TMZ ... one of the staffer's duties included planning Udoka's team-related travel, and we're told she was also involved in booking travel for Nia to come to Boston or to road games.

Perhaps most upsetting for Nia is that the employee had a hand in Nia's arrangements to move to Boston permanently, according to our sources.

TMZ broke the story ... Nia had just moved east a little over 2 weeks ago with Kez, her 10-year-old son with Ime.

The Celtics are not releasing the name of the employee, but we're told Nia has been told who she is.

WE STAND WITH OUR WOMEN
Boston.com

Team President Brad Stevens got choked up Friday during a news conference ... saying the scandal had been particularly upsetting for all their female employees -- due to speculation about who had the affair with Udoka.

As we've reported, the team suspended its head coach for the entire 2022-23 season after what it says was a months-long investigation into his conduct.

INVESTIGATING THE SECRETS
TMZ.com

We've reached out to the Celtics for comment, but no word back yet. Ditto for Nia's reps.

Old news is old news!
Be First!

Get TMZ breaking news sent right to your browser!