Nia Long Speaks Out After Celtics Coach Ime Udoka's Suspension

·3 min read

Head coach Ime Udoka has been suspended by the Boston Celtics for the entire 2022-23 season due to "violations of team policies," the team announced on Sept. 22.

Udoka, 45, who has been in a long-term relationship with actor Nia Long, had a relationship with a female member of the team's staff, according to multiple sources cited by ESPN and The Associated Press.

Long, 51, said in a statement shared with TODAY: “The outpouring love and support from family, friends and the community during this difficult time means so much to me. 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.”

TODAY has learned that the actor best known for her roles in "Boyz n the Hood" and "Big Momma's House" had moved to Boston with Kez, her 10-year-old son with Udoka, just two weeks ago; the couple had been house hunting. Long only found out about the incident in the last few days because Udoka knew it was about to go public.

"This relationship was consensual, but there’s a real power dynamic in play there," NBC Sports lead NBA writer Kurt Helin said on TODAY Friday. "It violated the Celtics' code of conduct, and they came down pretty strongly here."

NBC News reached out to Udoka for comment on Thursday night but did not immediately hear back.

"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. “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.”

Ime Udoka (Nathaniel S. Butler / NBAE via Getty Images)
Ime Udoka (Nathaniel S. Butler / NBAE via Getty Images)

There is no guarantee that Udoka, who led the Celtics to a 51-31 record and a berth in the NBA Finals in his first season, will return to his position for the 2023-24 season.

“A decision about his future with the Celtics beyond this season will be made at a later date,” the Celtics said in a statement.

Nia Long and Ime Udoka (Tommaso Boddi / WireImage)
Nia Long and Ime Udoka (Tommaso Boddi / WireImage)

The stunning suspension comes just weeks before the season will tip off on Oct. 18. Celtics assistant coach Joe Mazzulla will serve as interim head coach this season, according to NBC Sports.

Udoka's suspension is the second major disciplinary decision handed down in the NBA this month. Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver was suspended for year and fined $10 million by the NBA last week after the league said an investigation found multiple instances of racist language and misogyny by Sarver that contributed to a toxic work environment. Sarver announced on Sept. 21 that he is working to sell the Suns as well as the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury in the wake of the investigation.

"I think this is in the wake of what happened with Phoenix with owner Robert Sarver," Helin told TODAY of Udoka's suspension. "They wanted this to be no mistake that this is something they weren’t going to tolerate."

This article was originally published on TODAY.com