Boston Celtics basketball coach Ime Udoka’s alleged affair with a Celtics staff member has left him suspended for for the 2022-23 season, effective immediately. To complicate matters, the scandal is high profile not just because of his executive National Basketball Association position, but because his longtime partner is the much-liked, veteran actress Nia Long.
The Celtics said Udoka violated team policies by having a consensual intimate relationship with a female member of the franchise’s staff. While it has not been confirmed, there have been reports the female staffer is Kathleen Nimmo Lynch, who works in basketball operations.
Also, Udoka’s future with the organization will be determined later, the team announced.
“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.”
Udoka’s punishment is harsh by all standards as a season-long suspension is largely unprecedented for a sitting head coach in the NBA, ESPN reported.
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Udoka joined the Celtics last summer after working with the San Antonio Spurs, Philadelphia 76ers, and Brooklyn Nets as an assistant coach following his NBA playing career.
As a coach, Udoka has been more than effective. In his first season, the Celtics go from being under .500 in late January to closing the season with a 28-7 record over their final 35 games, ESPN reported. They later advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time in 12 years.
Udoka, 45, has been in a relationship with Long, 51, since 2010.
“The outpouring love and support from family, friends, and the community during this difficult time means so much to me,” the “Best Man” star said in a statement to Us Weekly at the time. “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 shares a 10-year-old son with Udoka. She has one other son, with actor Massai Z. Dorsey.
Boston Celtics head coach at a basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Feb. 8, 2022, in NYC. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)