Shimane Susanoo Magic head coach Yukinori Suzuki has received a two-month suspension by the league for power harassment, it was announced on Tuesday.
Suzuki’s punishment is for his treatment of an unnamed team staff member and a Shimane player, according to a league-issued statement and multiple published reports.
B. League chairman Masaaki Okawa met with the league’s rules committee to determine the sanctions for Suzuki and the Susanoo Magic, who joined the now-disbanded bj-league as an expansion team in 2010.
The B. League meted out a ¥300,000 fine to the Shimane organization for a violation of league rules.
Shimane general manager Kentaro Hori was also fined ¥100,000.
Last summer, Suzuki ordered a team staff member to swim at a beach, even though the coach was told in advance that the staff member could not swim, according to the league’s news release. As a result, the league reported, the staff member “became ill and vomited” on the same night.
The power harassment sanctions are also for Suzuki’s treatment of a Susanoo Magic player. The coach’s communication with the player over a sustained period of time included harsh statements while hinting the player would be released. The league’s reported stated that the player suffered from mental distress and vomiting.
“The above-mentioned violations are malicious in violation of the league’s purpose of ‘contributing to the promotion of a rich sports culture and the healthy development of the mind and body of the people,’ and the values of the B. League, the JBA (Japan Basketball Association), and even the basketball world as a whole,” the league said in a statement. “Because it is degrading and strictly discouraged.”
The league said it was made aware in August of complaints about Suzuki’s coaching methods and then conducted what it described as “a fact-finding survey.”
In the news release, Hori was also cited for a lack of governance.
“In response to the power harassment act of Yuki Suzuki, the club’s head coach, it is recognized that Hori was aware of Mr. Suzuki’s power harassment act, but necessary measures such as stopping Suzuki and paying attention he did not do,” the release stated.
Shimane CEO Hiroshi Kawasaki, who said he became aware of the matter on Monday, said the organization must learn from this incident.
“We will never (let) it happen again. We want to build a mechanism that will report to us even if there is a closed case,” he said in a statement.
The Susanoo Magic (10-20) fell to the visiting Nagoya Diamond Dolphins 81-75 on Wednesday night in their first game since Suzuki’s suspension began. Assistant GM Shigeru Shinohara was appointed as Suzuki’s replacement before the game.
Meanwhile, the team insisted it is “undecided” about Suzuki’s future with the club.
The 42-year-old Suzuki is in his third season at the helm. He guided the Susanoo Magic to a 43-17 record in the second division in the 2018-19 campaign, steering the team’s promotion to B1. In 2017-18, Shimane went 11-49 in the top flight and was demoted back to B2.
In 2011, Suzuki’s coaching career began with the bj-league’s Oita HeatDevils for whom he played from 2005 until being named head coach. He also suited up for the Niigata Albirex BB from 2001 to 2005 in the JBL.
In 2015, Suzuki took over as Kanazawa Samuraiz coach, a position he held until 2017.
This isn’t the first time the B. League has cracked down on power harassment by punishing a coach.
In August 2019, the league handed then-Kagawa Five Arrows bench boss Kohei Eto a one-year ban for power harassment, which the league also said included kicking a player in the locker room after a game in December 2017 and slapping players at practice, it was reported. The Five Arrows were also fined ¥1 million.
All-Star Game rewind
B. Black prevailed over B. White in the fourth annual B. League All-Star Game, winning 123-117 on Saturday in Sapporo.
Levanga Hokkaido shooting guard Takehiko Orimo, who is retiring at the end of the season, was selected as game MVP by fans via SNS balloting. The 49-year-old Hokkaido team president scored 14 points for B. Black.
Utsunomiya’s Ryan Rossiter paced B. Black with 30 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists. Brex teammates Jeff Gibbs and Kosuke Takeuchi added 21 and 10 points, respectively. Osaka’s Ira Brown had 15 points, including five dunks (tying Gibbs for the team lead) and five steals.
For B. White, Shibuya’s Sebastian Saiz finished with 26 points, including a game-high six dunks, and 12 boards. Chiba’s Yuki Togashi poured in 21 points and dished out 11 assists, Mikawa’s Davante Gardner also scored 21 points and Kawasaki’s Nick Fazekas had 18.
B. Black produced the largest scoring run of the game, an 18-0 spurt, to pull ahead 58-42 in the second quarter.
In a high-paced game without sustained high-intensity defense, the teams shot a combined 13 foul shots.
B. Black made 38 of 53 2-point shots; B. White converted 40 of 50. From 3-point range, B. Black nailed 14 of 49 attempts, while B. White drained 11 of 40.
The 2021 All-Star Game will be held next January in Okinawa City.