Nevertheless, regardless of how admirable and highly-regarded an organization may be, the occasional scandal is rather inescapable. This is especially true for a franchise like the Celtics that have been around since 1946. We did some digging and below we present the three biggest scandals this organization has ever been involved in. Ready your popcorn, folks.
Louisville Pay-for-Sex Scandal
In 2015, a self-confessed former escort named Katrina Powell sensationally revealed that she had been receiving thousands of dollars worth of payments from representatives of the University of Louisville men’s basketball program. In exchange she provided women that would have sex with Louisville players and recruits. This scandal was so controversial that an investigative book even came out about it.
Unfortunately for the Celtics, two of their players were named as part of the revelations. According to Powell, Terry Rozier and Jordan Mickey — both LSU products who entered the NBA in 2015 — both players had sex during their respective recruitment visits. When the scandal exploded, both Rozier and Michkey kept mum about their alleged involvement.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Rozier said in 2015, via Justin Terranova of the New York Post. “I will say, though, Coach P (Pitino), as far as the dorm situations and visits, he’d go out to eat with the recruits and their parents. As far as after that, he wouldn’t know. I can say his nose is clean.”
As an added bonus, then LSU coach Rick Pitino, who Rozier referenced above, was the head coach for the Celtics between 1998 and 2001. Pitino was heavily criticized for allowing these allegations to happen during his watch — be it knowignly or otherwise.
Mickey was waived by the C’s in 2017 after playing just 41 games for the team in two seasons, while Rozier was traded to the Charlotte Hornets in the summer of 2019.
Jerome Allen Bribes
Fast forward some three years after the Celtics were rocked by the Louisville incident, the organization took another massive hit when assistant coach Jerome Allen was implicated in a huge bribery scandal during his days as the head coach of University of Pennsylvania.
In a controversial 2018 report published by Michael Smith, David Voreacos, and Eben Novy-Williams of Bloomberg, they alleged that Allen received bribe money from a certain Florida businessman named Philip Esformes. The healthcare mogul reportedly “illicitly gave [Allen] more than $74,000 in the form of cash, a recruiting trip to Miami and a separate ride on a private jet in 2013 and 2014.” This was under the condition that Allen would use his influence in the program to help get Esformes’ son into Penn. For what it’s worth Philip Esformes was recently sentenced to 20 years in prison for his involvement in a massive Medicare fraud case.
Allen eventually came clean and admitted to his involvement in the incident.
“I accepted the money to help Morris Esformes get into the school,” Allen testified during the father’s Medicare fraud trial in Miami federal court, via Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald. “I got his son into Penn; I got his son into Wharton. None of that would have happened without me.”
For their part, the Celtics did not really get involved in the fiasco. As a matter of fact, Boston head coach Brad Stevens even offered his support to his assistant. As of writing, Allen remains to be part of the Celtics coaching staff.
C’s Faithful Attacks Ref
We have to go all the way back to 1976 for the final item on our list today. This was a time when violence prevailed in the NBA both on and off the court, and the Celtics sure played their part with regards to this dark aspect of the league’s history.
The incident transpired during Game 5 of the 1976 Finals, as Boston faced off against the Phoenix Suns in a high-octane matchup. Celtics legend John Havlicek sank an 18-foot runner with just two seconds remaining in second overtime, and fans rushed to the court to celebrate what they thought was a game-winning basket. One fan decided to attack one of the game officials, Richie Powers, who ended up on the receiving end of a couple of wild blows. The assailant was quickly escorted out by security, but not before he had already done his damage.
Amazingly, it turned out that there was still time remaining on the clock, and the game carried on. The Suns scored and forced a third overtime, but in the end, it was Boston who won the ballgame, 128-126. They went on to finish the series in Phoenix in Game 6, en route to title No. 13, but there’s no denying that it was marred by this ugly incident in Boston Garden.