Celtics Coach Ime Udoka Suspended for Whole Season

Sources say he had an improper relationship with female staffer
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 23, 2022 7:21 AM CDT
Celtics Suspend Coach for Entire Season
Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka is seen during the fourth quarter of Game 6 of basketball's NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, Thursday, June 16, 2022, in Boston.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka had a stellar first season in charge, but he's now been suspended for the entire 2022-23 season, effective immediately. The team said in a statement Thursday night that Udoka had violated team policies and a "decision about his future with the Celtics beyond this season will be made at a later date." Sources tell the Athletic that Udoka violated policies by engaging in an "intimate relationship" with a female member of the organization. The sources say some members of the Celtics organization learned about the relationship in July and believed it was consensual, but the "woman recently accused Udoka of making unwanted comments toward her—leading the team to launch a set of internal interviews."

"I want to apologize to our players, fans, the entire Celtics organization, and my family for letting them down," Udoka said in a statement to ESPN. "I am sorry for putting the team in this difficult situation, and I accept the team's decision." Udoka oversaw what ESPN calls a "remarkable turnaround" in the 2021-22 season, bringing the team to its first NBA finals in 12 years. Sources tell the AP that assistant coach Joe Mazzulla will take over as interim coach ahead of the Oct. 19 season opener. Udoka, 45, has been in a relationship with actress Nia Long since 2010, and they have been engaged since 2015, per TMZ.

Gary Washburn at the Boston Globe says it's "disappointing and disheartening that a man who has preached professionalism, showing up on time, accepting criticism and using it as motivation was living afoul off the court." He says Udoka "acted selfishly and recklessly, choosing his physical desires over maturity, restraint and mental discipline"—but the team is also guilty of "transgression." Washburn faults the team for apparently leaking details about the suspension before making an official announcement—and for failing to offer clarity when people on social media incorrectly identified a Black female team exec as the woman Udoka was involved with. (Read more Boston Celtics stories.)

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