Ime Udoka banned for one year following ‘multiple violations of conduct rules’

C's president, Brad Stevens faced the press alongside Celtics majority owner Wyc Grousbeck


Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka will receive a ‘significant financial penalty’ in addition to his one-year suspension following ‘multiple violations’ of Celtics’ conduct rules, the team’s majority owner Wyc Grousbeck has confirmed.

Grousbeck and President of basketball operations, Brad Stevens, faced the media in the aftermath of suspending their head coach for the entirety of the 2022-23 season. 

Udoka’s enforced sabbatical lasts until June 30, 2023 with a decision on his future as head coach to be determined at a later juncture. 

‘We’re not going to talk about the long-term because nothing has been decided,’ Grousbeck said. 

The Celtics owner was unspecific as to whether Udoka’s absence will be without pay, simply stating there will be a ‘significant financial penalty when you net it all out.’

However, Scott Cacciola of The New York Times reports that throughout the suspension, Udoka will be ‘unpaid.’ 

The second-year coach, who led the C’s to the NBA Finals in his debut season, is alleged to have had an affair with a female staff member within the Celtics organization. 

Stevens elucidated the Celtics have a duty to look after women in their organization following the saga, amidst a wave of ‘rampant bulls***’ on social media.

‘We have a lot of talented women in our organization and I thought yesterday was really hard on them,’ Stevens said of the innuendo surrounding Udoka and potentially involved parties. 

C's president, Brad Stevens faced the press alongside Celtics majority owner Wyc Grousbeck

C’s president, Brad Stevens faced the press alongside Celtics majority owner Wyc Grousbeck

‘Nobody can control Twitter speculation and rampant bulls***, but I do think we have a responsibility to make sure we are there to support them.’ 

With numerous names thrown into the situation on social media, Grousbeck was explicit that only Udoka was ‘facing penalty or reprimand.’ 

According to Grousbeck, the origination’s players are ‘very concerned’ about the situation, and indeed allegations leveled at Udoka. 

‘We think our culture is very strong,’ he added. ‘We’re very proud of it. But this has shaken it. I don’t think there is a wider issue than what we’ve spent several months uncovering.’

Celtics majority owner Wyc Grousbeck came down strongly on his head coach while addressing the incidences which have sent shockwaves through the NBA landscape

Celtics majority owner Wyc Grousbeck came down strongly on his head coach while addressing the incidences which have sent shockwaves through the NBA landscape

Joe Mazzulla — who has been an assistant with Boston since 2019 — will be the team’s interim head coach. 

Stevens, who previously was the head coach of the Celtics, praised Mazzulla and illuminated what he will bring to an unquestionably talented roster. 

‘He’s an exceptionally sharp and talented person,’ he said. ‘I believe strongly in him and his ability to lead people, to galvanize a room and get behind him. 

Grousbeck and Stevens will face further questions on Monday during the team's media day

Grousbeck and Stevens will face further questions on Monday during the team’s media day

‘And his ability to organize and understand all that comes with running a team through the season.’

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Mazzulla was arrested for domestic battery in 2009 and was charged with fighting with police and underage drinking in 2008. 

When asked about the battery arrest, Stevens admitted the 34-year-old was vetted prior to his hire in 2019. 

Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka will be suspended for the entirety of the 2022-23 season

Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka will be suspended for the entirety of the 2022-23 season

Prior to joining Boston, Udoka won a ring as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs

Prior to joining Boston, Udoka won a ring as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs

‘I believe strongly that, that shaped him into who he is today in a really good way,’ Stevens said of the team’s interim head coach. 

I believe strongly in his substantiveness as a person. He’s been very open with me on how those incidents impacted him. 

‘He’ll be the first to tell you that he’s 110% accountable for that. I’ll be the first to tell you that I believe in him.’ 

Boston were two wins shy of winning an NBA Championship last season with Udoka. 

Now they face a wholly unprecedented set of circumstances, just weeks before their opening regular season game vs. Philadelphia on October 18.

Udoka has been engaged to actress Nia Long (left), who gave birth to the couple's son in 2011

Udoka has been engaged to actress Nia Long (left), who gave birth to the couple’s son in 2011

Udoka guided a youthful and talented Celtics roster to the Eastern Conference Title in 2021-22

Udoka guided a youthful and talented Celtics roster to the Eastern Conference Title in 2021-22

The situation is puzzling, not only because Boston is sidelining a coach that guided the team to the NBA Finals in his first season, but also as an ostensibly private and reportedly consensual relationship is now a public matter.

The Athletic raised questions about the relationship Thursday night, reporting that Udoka was accused by the woman of making ‘unwanted comments’ to her, prompting the Celtics to launch internal interviews that ultimately led to his suspension. 

The six-game NBA Finals loss to the Warriors notwithstanding, Udoka’s stock couldn’t have been higher entering the off-season. 

Udoka's top assistant, Will Hardy (right), left Boston to become head coach of the Utah Jazz, leaving former Celtics assistant Joe Mazzulla (left) as the fill-in head coach for Boston

Udoka’s top assistant, Will Hardy (right), left Boston to become head coach of the Utah Jazz, leaving former Celtics assistant Joe Mazzulla (left) as the fill-in head coach for Boston

Now his reputation, like the situation itself, is murky with an uncertain future. 

Udoka apologized to the players, fans and team for ‘putting the side in a difficult situation’ in statement released Thursday night.  

‘I want to apologize to our players, fans, the entire Celtics organization, and my family for letting them down,’ Udoka’s statement read. ‘I am sorry for putting the team in this difficult situation, and I accept the team’s decision. Out of respect for everyone involved, I will have no further comment.’

Before coaching with the Celtics, Udoka spent time as an assistant coach for eight seasons at the San Antonio Spurs under head coach Gregg Popovich, helping to win an NBA title in 2014. 

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San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has been something of a mentor to Udoka, after the pair spent eight seasons together in Texas before Udoka moved to the Philadelphia 76ers in '19

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has been something of a mentor to Udoka, after the pair spent eight seasons together in Texas before Udoka moved to the Philadelphia 76ers in ’19

Mazzulla will take charge of an indubitably star-studded roster during the 2022 NBA season

Mazzulla will take charge of an indubitably star-studded roster during the 2022 NBA season

Udoka left San Antonio in 2019, moving to the Philadelphia 76ers. The following season, he became an assistant coach with the Brooklyn Nets.

He was then hired as the head coach of the Celtics, becoming the fifth black head coach in the team’s history. 

A Portland native, Udoka played at Portland State before a journeyman’s career that took him from low-level, independent leagues to Europe and eventually the NBA, where he carved out bench roles with the Spurs. 

He also had brief stints with the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Portland Trail Blazers, and Sacramento Kings. 

Udoka and his fiancee, Long, have been an item for several years -seen at the 2013 BET awards

Udoka and his fiancee, Long, have been an item for several years -seen at the 2013 BET awards

Udoka’s longtime fiancé Nia Long was reportedly blindsided by his reported affair with a female member of the team’s staff, resulting in his year-long suspension, even though the club had confronted him with its investigation months ago.

Long, the 51-year-old former Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star, had moved to the Boston area two weeks ago with the couple’s 10-year-old son and had recently been house hunting with Udoka, according to TMZ.

She reportedly was unaware of the allegations until the last few days, even though the Celtics had been investigating the matter with Udoka’s knowledge for months, TMZ reports.

Ben Simmons (L) and other Sixers stars worked closely with Udoka while he was an assistant

Ben Simmons (L) and other Sixers stars worked closely with Udoka while he was an assistant

Now, through her spokeswoman, Long is asking for privacy.

‘The outpouring of love and support from family, friends and the community during this difficult time means so much to me,’ Long told TMZ through her spokeswoman. 

‘I ask that my privacy be respected as I process the recent events. Above all, I am a mother and will continue to focus on my children.’



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