Boston – The decision to suspend Celtics coach Ime Udoka for the 2022-23 season follows a months-long investigation by an independent law firm, team owner Vic Gruesbeck said in a press conference Friday.
Gruzbeck declined to elaborate on the nature of Udoka’s misconduct, citing “privacy reasons,” although he acknowledged there were “two violations” of team policy. A person who was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter, who gave a brief statement about the matter, said that Udoka had an inappropriate relationship with a female team member.
“It’s a serious time and a time for reflection and action,” said Grousbeck, who joined the team’s president of basketball operations, Brad Stevens. “We have strong values at Celtic and we are doing everything we can to uphold them here.”
The 45-year-old Udoka’s suspension was announced by the team late Thursday in his first year coaching the Celtics to the NBA Finals last season. Joe Mazzula, one of Udoka’s assistants, will be the team’s interim coach, Stevens said.
Gruesbeck believes that the situation involving Udoka is not indicative of a major problem within the organization. Udoka was the only person Grusbeck punished or reprimanded.
“We go to great lengths — or appropriate lengths, at least — to operate the organization with respect and freedom, free from workplace harassment or attention of any kind,” Gruesbeck said. of the organization” in the coming weeks.
Gruesbeck said he consulted with team officials and agreed with outside counsel before deciding on Udokan’s punishment. Udoka’s suspension will be unpaid.
“This felt right, but there was no clear guideline for this,” Gruesbeck said. “It’s really conscience and gut feeling.”
Gruesbeck said no decision has been made on Udoka’s long-term future.
Team officials realized during the summer that “there was a situation,” Grouzbeck said, prompting them to retain a law firm to investigate Udoka’s conduct. The law firm relayed its findings to the group on Wednesday, Gruesbeck said.
“The investigation had some twists and turns and it took some time to develop all the facts,” he said.
Greisbeck said Celtics players are “concerned” about the situation — “not a welcome development” — though he expects them to come together and play hard this season.
Udoka has a close relationship with many players. Stevens said it would be a shame to expect everything to be business as usual when training camp starts next week.
“I don’t ignore the fact that there are human emotions everywhere,” Stevens said.
Vague reports about Udoka’s condition surfaced late Wednesday. Since then, many people in social networks have published the names and photos of women who work in Celtic, commenting on their bodies and their external appearance, suggesting that the women were involved with Udoka.
“We have a lot of talented women in our organization and I thought yesterday was very difficult for them,” Stevens said, “I think we have a responsibility as an organization to make sure we’re there.” Support them now, because many people have been unfairly dragged there.