Boston Celtics executives said at a news conference Friday that head coach Ime Udoka was given a season-long suspension following an investigation carried out by a law firm that discovered a “volume of violations” of team policy, but they did not offer specifics despite a report stating the ban came after he made unwanted comments toward a female staffer.
Team owner Wyc Grousbeck said Udoka is also facing a “significant financial penalty” but it’s not clear whether the suspension will be unpaid.
Grousbeck added that no decision has been made about Udoka’s long-term future with the organization, saying “there’s no clear guidelines for any of this.”
Reports surfaced earlier this week that the Celtics were considering a significant suspension for Udoka over an intimate, consensual relationship he had with a female staffer, but the Athletic later reported a woman informed the organization that Udoka was making unwanted comments toward her.
Brad Stevens, the team’s president of basketball operations, briefly became emotional as he slammed numerous rumors that surfaced online this week falsely identifying women in the organization as having a relationship with Udoka, saying “a lot of people unfairly were dragged into that.”
Grousbeck said Udoka has “accepted” the suspension following discussions with team management.
“I think it is well warranted and appropriate,” Grousbeck said of the suspension.
Udoka’s suspension shocked NBA observers after he led the Celtics to the NBA Finals last season, his first as the team’s head coach. The run to the finals represented a massive turnaround in the team’s fortunes, after they were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs in 2021. It was the first Finals appearance for the Celtics since 2010.
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The Celtics confirmed assistant coach Joe Mazzulla will take over as the interim head coach for the 2022-23 season.
Actress Nia Long, Udoka’s longtime fiancé, made her first public comments following the allegations in a statement People published Friday, saying: “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.”