As expected, the Boston Celtics have suspended head coach Ime Udoka for the entire 2022-23 NBA season due to engaging in an inappropriate relationship with a female staff member.
The Celtics notified the media that Udoka violated a team policy even though it was considered a consensual intimate relationship.
The unprecedented punishment comes just months after Udoka finished out his first season with the Celtics in which he was universally praised for transforming the team and taking them to the NBA Finals. He was highly respected and was considered one of the rising NBA coaching stars in the league.
During Udoka’s year away from the team, assistant coach Joe Mazzulla will be the interim head coach for the upcoming season. The Celtics indicated they will discuss whether Udoka will ever coach for the team again at a later date.
Udoka was very contrite for his transgressions in a statement that was obtained by ESPN.
“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’s Malika Andrews. “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.”
The news over the past two days have stunned the sports world to its core. With Udoka, the Celtics were expected to challenge once again for Eastern Conference supremacy and make a run to return to the NBA Finals.
Under Udoka’s leadership, the Celtics rose from playing below .500 in late January to finishing the season on a 28-7 tear and coming within two games of winning the NBA championship against the Golden State Warriors. The former NBA player was also just the fifth coach to take his team to the Finals in the past 25 years.