Boston Celtics have suspended head coach and former D’Tigers forward Ime Udoka for the 2022-23 NBA season after he entered into a relationship with a female member of staff.
Udoka, 45, who led the Celtics to the NBA Finals earlier this year in his first season as a head coach, was suspended for “violations of team policies”.
The team added that a decision about Udoka’s future beyond 2022-23 will be made at a later date.
Assistant coach Joe Mazzulla will be promoted to interim head coach.
Reacting to his suspension Udoka wrote in a statement:”I want to apologise to our players, fans, the entire Celtics organisation and my family for letting them down.
“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.”
After a seven-year playing career in the NBA, Udoka served as an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs, Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets before succeeding Brad Stevens as Boston coach in June 2021.
The Celtics won 28 of their final 35 games in the regular season to reach the play-offs and went on to make the NBA Finals for the first time in 12 years, losing 4-2 against the Golden State Warriors.
At the 2006 FIBA World Championships, Udoka led Nigeria in scoring, assists, and steals.
He also played for Nigeria in the 2005 and 2011 FIBA Africa Championships, winning a bronze medal in both tournaments.
He has served as an assistant coach for USA Basketball under his Spurs head coach, Gregg Popovich.
His coaching role on the 2019 FIBA World Cup team helped him build relationships with Celtics players Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart, who advocated for his hiring as the new Boston head coach.
Also, Udoka coached for Team USA under Popovich at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.