The Boston Celtics certainly will try to put the Ime Udoka situation behind them as they pursue the organization’s 18th championship banner.
That’s obviously easier said than done, though, and a Hall of Fame Celtic couldn’t help but wonder what kind of impact the drama will have on Boston’s players this season.
“This story’s got everything — fame, sports, sex, everything. People aren’t going to stop talking about this until they find out what went on,” the unnamed ex-Celtic told Heavy’s Steve Bulpett last Friday night, according to a piece published Monday. “Hell, I want to know. It’s just so hard to wrap your head around. I mean, I know it has to be something bad, because there’s no way the team would potentially screw up their season like this. I know Ime didn’t play in the games or anything like that, but this issue is going to hang over the players. I wouldn’t want to be them when they get into (training) camp and the questions start coming.”
The Celtics last week suspended Udoka for the entire 2022-23 NBA season for violations of team policies. Both Boston president of basketball operations Brad Stevens and Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck declined to divulge specifics Friday during a press conference, citing privacy reasons, but reports continue to trickle out about what allegedly led to the punishment.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported last week that Udoka had “an improper intimate and consensual relationship” with a female staff member, before later adding the woman recently accused the Celtics head coach of making “unwanted comments” toward her.
Entertainment Tonight’s Kevin Frazier subsequently reported the relationship was discovered by the staffer’s husband, who overheard a private conversation on a home doorbell camera, and that the staffer continued to work with Udoka’s fiancée, actress Nia Long, on her recent move to Boston even after the affair was discovered by the Celtics.
All told, it’s a complicated situation, as we simply don’t know exactly what happened or who was involved. And it certainly puts Celtics players into a weird spot as they look to build upon a successful 2021-22 campaign — Udoka’s first season in Boston — in which they reached the NBA Finals.
The Celtics revealed while announcing Udoka’s suspension that a decision on his future beyond this season would be made at a later date. Joe Mazzulla, an assistant coach under Udoka last season, will serve as Boston’s interim head coach in the meantime.