The Boston Celtics have suspended coach Ime Udoka for the 2022-23 season, the team announced Thursday night.
The team cited breaches of team policy in its announcement. Sources previously told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Udoka had an intimate relationship with an employee of the franchise.
The suspension is effective immediately and a decision on Udoka’s future with the organization will be made at a later date, the team said.
“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’m sorry for putting the team in this difficult situation and I accept the team’s decision. Out of respect for everyone involved, I will not comment further.”
The season-long suspension is largely unprecedented for a sitting head coach in the NBA.
The Celtics have named assistant coach Joe Mazzulla as interim head coach, sources told Wojnarowski.
Udoka’s top assistant coach, Will Hardy, left the team in June to coach the Utah Jazz.
Udoka joined the Celtics last summer after spending some time as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs, Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets following his NBA career.
He replaced Brad Stevens as coach. Stevens moved up to become Boston’s President of Basketball Operations after his predecessor at the job, Danny Ainge, decided to leave the organization.
In his first season as coach, Udoka provided a notable turnaround in Boston, which saw the Celtics finish the season from under .500 in late January with a 28-7 record in their last 35 games. They then put up an impressive run through the Eastern Conference playoffs and reached the NBA Finals for the first time in 12 years.
Udoka is the fifth coach in the past 25 years to reach the NBA Finals in his first season as head coach and the first since Nick Nurse in 2019.
He was also the first rookie coach to win multiple Game 7s in his first postseason, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Udoka led Boston in seven games to victories over the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals and the Miami Heat in the East Conference Finals before the Celtics lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games in the NBA Finals.
ESPN’s Tim Bontemps contributed to this report.
https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/34646067/boston-celtics-suspend-coach-ime-udoka-2022-23-season-effective-immediately Boston Celtics suspend coach Ime Udoka for 2022-23 season, effective immediately