Celtics Head Coach Ime Udoka Hit With Lengthy Suspension

Christopher Slootmaker
Staff Writer

Coming off their first National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals appearance since 2010, the fate of the Boston Celtics is cloudier than ever. The Celtics made their way to the Finals last year with a team with a strong defense lead by Marcus Smart and Robert Williams III, multiple unstoppable offensive weapons including Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, and a young and upcoming rookie coach in Ime Udoka. This team has everything that an organization could want to lead themselves for a championship, and that is their top goal coming into the 2022-23 season. While the team themselves is playing some of the best basketball they have played in over a decade, their head coach has gotten into his own scandal this summer.  

Celtics suspended head coach Ime Udoka (Photo courtesy of Nathanial S Butler/Getty Images)

Udoka has been suspended for the entire 2022-23 NBA season for having a relationship with another worker within the organization. While the relationship was consensual, relationships between employees within the same organization is not allowed in the Celtics organization and it violates the team’s code of conduct. He was stated as using “crude language” with his female subordinate which caused the initial spark in investigation. Udoka has issued an official apology after the announcement in which he apologizes for putting the organization in this difficult situation. 

Celtics new head coach Joe Mazzulla (Photo courtesy of Charles Krupa/AP Photos)

The 2022 season was Udoka’s first season as an NBA head coach and led them to the finals, a feat that has only happened 5 times in the past 25 years. Without his expertise in game planning and overall strategy, the team could be lost without a real identity in style of play as the season starts. With this news breaking just over two weeks before the start of the season, the Celtics will have to hand over the head coach position to Joe Mazzulla who was the assistant coach. Mazzulla has said that he will keep most game planning the same as Udoka would have done, but with Udoka having no control over what Mazzulla does, changes are bound to come. Having a strong front office and coaching team are critical in creating a championship caliber team, but all these allegations have set the entire organization back, even after removing Udoka from the picture. The players have been having a hard time dealing with this situation as they were told almost nothing throughout the entire process. Marcus Smart, starter for the Celtics, stated on media day when asked about the situation “Just caught off surprise. Nobody knows anything, so we’re just in the wind like everybody else. It’s confusing.” No one within the organization saw this coming which is not good when the start of the season is less than a month away. This season will be a great example of how much good coaching can make a difference on a professional team.  

As of right now, the Celtics are unsure if they will actually reinstate Udoka after the suspension, as they believe it could cause some problems within the Celtics organization. NBA analyst Adrian Wojnarowski believes that Udoka will have “A difficult pathway back to reinstatement”. The Celtics are off to a strong 3-0 start this season without their head coach; will they be able to keep this energy throughout the season and make it back to the NBA finals? 


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