How Celtics Players Reacted To News Of Ime Udoka Suspension

Can the Celtics put this all behind them as the season approaches?


September 23

The Boston Celtics are gearing up to defend their Eastern Conference title, and they just learned they’ll have to do so without head coach Ime Udoka.

The C’s open training camp Tuesday, and it will be interim Joe Mazzulla leading the charge after the organization suspended Udoka for the entire season following an investigation into questionable workplace behavior. Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck confirmed Friday that Udoka committed multiple violations of organization rules stemming from a reported relationship with a team staffer.

The shocking news broke late Wednesday night, and as it all came into focus, the team’s power brokers met with players at the team facility Thursday. According to Grousbeck and president of basketball operations Brad Stevens, the news was not only surprising but tough to take for those who grew close to Udoka in his first season leading the Celtics.

“Brad and I both met with the players, but I would say in general, they are very concerned about this,” Grousbeck said Friday at a press conference.

Stevens, who’s in a unique position given his past as head coach, acknowledged the difficulty of the transition away from Udoka, especially for a group that bought into Udoka which led to success.

“To a lot of people, they obviously were not aware there was going to be potential change or anything that would be unique,” Stevens said. “There’s a real relationship there with a lot of guys and rightfully so. … There’s a personal connection and a care both ways, so human beings are human beings, right? That’s going to be the way it is.

“To think guys on the team or coaches or anybody else in the organization can walk back out on the court and it’s fine, that’s not the way it is. I just think this is a really, really tough situation. But we’re gonna forward-focused, we’re gonna be forward-focused with what we need to address to get everybody ready to go on Tuesday when we start a new season. I believe we will be, but I’m not gonna ignore the fact there are human emotions all over the place.”

Channeling all of that is going to be a massive piece of the puzzle for the 2022-23 Celtics, but Grousbeck is confident the team can eventually push it aside and find a way to make it work.

“It’s not a welcomed development,” the owner acknowledged, “but they also, I felt, have energy and focus and commitment and drive to achieve great things this season … Based on last year and based on everything we know about them, that commitment will be fulfilled.”

Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens
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