What Happened With Ime Udoka, and Why Is The Boston Celtics Head Coach Suspended?

What did Ime Udoka do to get suspended from the Celtics? Here is everything you need to know and what his wife Nia Long has to say.

Ever since Ime Udoka became the head coach of the Boston Celtics in June 2021, all eyes were on the former athlete. The 45-year-old’s work has spoken for itself since he coached the team through their first NBA Finals appearance in 2022 in 2010. Although the team fell short, many have praised Ime for his hard work and have expressed hope for a future title.

That said, if the Boston Celtics are able to achieve a championship title in the near future, it’s possible that won’t be under Ime’s leadership.

In September 2022, Ime was suspended for a violation that goes against the Celtics and the entire NBA game. Ime is currently under fire for having an intimate relationship with a franchise member.

Why did they suspend the Celtics coach?

The Boston Celtics have suspended coach Ime Udoka for the 2022-23 season, the team announced Thursday night (22 September 2022).

The Celtics cited violations of team policies in their announcement. Sources previously told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Udoka had an intimate relationship with a female member of the franchise’s staff.

The suspension is effective immediately, and a decision about Udoka’s future with the organization will be made later, 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 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 season-long suspension is largely unprecedented for a sitting head coach in the NBA.

Ime Udoka

The Celtics have made assistant coach Joe Mazzulla the interim head coach, sources told Wojnarowski. Udoka’s top assistant coach, Will Hardy, left the team in June to become coach of the Utah Jazz.

Udoka joined the Celtics last summer after spending time with the San Antonio Spurs, Philadelphia 76ers, and Brooklyn Nets as an assistant coach following his NBA playing career.

He replaced Brad Stevens as a coach. Stevens moved upstairs to be Boston’s president of basketball operations after his predecessor in that job, Danny Ainge, chose to leave the organization.

In his first season as coach, Udoka oversaw a remarkable turnaround in Boston, one that saw the Celtics go from being under .500 in late January to closing the season with a 28-7 record over their final 35 games. They then authored an impressive run through the Eastern Conference playoffs, advancing to 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 a head coach and the first since Nick Nurse in 2019.

He also, according to ESPN Stats & Information, became the first rookie coach to win multiple Game 7s in his first postseason. Udoka led Boston to victories over the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference semifinals and the Miami Heat in the East finals in seven games before the Celtics lost to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals in six games.

Ime Udoka's wife

Nia Long Releases Statement After Celtics Coach Ime Udoka’s Suspension

Actress Nia Long, the longtime partner of Udoka, emailed a statement to the Boston Globe on Friday, asking for privacy while acknowledging the outpouring of support.

“The outpouring love and support from family, friends and the community during this difficult time means so much to me,” Long said. “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,” Long added.

Long and Udoka first met in early 2010 and have a son together, who was born in ’11. The couple has been engaged since ’15.