Boston Celtics, the American professional basketball team have suspended their head coach Ime Udoka for the 2022-23 season. The latest news release by the Boston Celtics came on 22nd September. As per the announcement, the suspension is effective immediately and a decision regarding whether Udoka will continue associating with the team in the future will be made at a later date. The reason cited by Celtics for his suspension was violations of team policies.
According to people with knowledge of the matter, Udoka was suspended due to an improper relationship with a member of the team. However, the Boston Celtics have not divulged that matter publicly. Though rumours were abuzz that Udoka might resign, he did not.
As per the statement released by Udoka, he wanted to apologise to the fans, the Celtics organisation as a whole and to his family for letting them down. He also added that he feels sorry for putting the team in such a difficult situation and accepts the team’s decision. Udoka ended the note stating that he respects everyone involved and does not want to comment further.
Since 2010, the 45 year old Udoka has been in a relationship with Nia Long, an American actress. In 2011, the couple had a son, Kez Sunday Udoka. Udoka got engaged to Long in 2015.
Before joining Boston Celtics, Udoka had spent a long 8 years of his career as an assistant under Gregg Popovich with the Spurs. Prior to that he had brief stints with the 76ers and Nets. It was on 28th June 2021 that Celtics hired Udoka as their head coach. In the history of the Boston Celtics, he was the fifth person of African origin to be appointed as their head coach. During his coaching career at Celtics, Udoka led the team to a 51-31 record. Also, it was he who helped the team make an entry into the first NBA finals since 2010 and it was Udoka’s first season as a head coach at Celtics.
These kinds of disciplinary actions are not new at the NBA. In a recent move, Robert Sarver, who owns the Phoenix Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury was suspended last week by Commissioner Adam Silver for 1 year. In addition to that, he was penalised with a fine of $10 million. This was following an investigation that revealed that his actions disturbed workplace conduct. Sarver was also found to use abusive and racist language. In another incident last year, the Timberwolves fired team president Gersson Rosas as he was found having an extramarital affair with a female Minnesota staff member.
Udoka’s suspension has come as a big blow to the Celtics. Going by reports, in the interim, Joe Mazzulla, currently an assistant coach at Celtics will be appointed as the head coach for the 2022-23 season. It was in 2019 that Mazzulla joined Celtics in the role of an assistant coach under Brad Stevens.