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Celtics Say Suspending Coach Ime Udoka Was a Matter of ‘Conscience’ – The New York Times

The Celtics said Udoka violated unspecified team rules, prompting a one-year suspension.

BOSTON The Celtics’ decision to suspend Coach Ime Udoka for the 2022-23 season came after a monthslong investigation into his conduct by an independent law firm, Wyc Grousbeck, the team’s majority owner, said at a news conference Friday.

Grousbeck cited “privacy reasons” in declining to elaborate on the nature of Udoka’s misconduct, though he acknowledged there were “a couple of violations” of team policy. A person briefed on the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly about it said Udoka had an inappropriate relationship with a female team employee.

“It’s a time of concern and reflection and action,” said Grousbeck, who was joined by Brad Stevens, the team’s president of basketball operations. “We have strong values at the Celtics, and we are doing our best to uphold them here.”

Udoka, 45, whose suspension was announced by the team late Thursday, coached the Celtics to the N.B.A. finals last season in his first year in the role. Joe Mazzulla, one of Udoka’s assistants, will be the team’s interim coach this season, Stevens said.

Grousbeck said it was his belief that the situation involving Udoka was not indicative of a larger problem within the organization. Udoka is the only person who was punished or reprimanded, Grousbeck said.

“We go to great lengths — or appropriate lengths, at least — to run the organization with a core value of respect and freedom in the workplace from harassment or any unwelcome attention,” Grousbeck said, adding that he would be “personally talking to members of the organization” in the coming weeks.

Grousbeck said he consulted with a group of team officials and sought input from outside advisers before determining the severity of Udoka’s punishment. Udoka’s suspension will be unpaid.

“This felt right, but there’s no clear guidelines for any of this,” Grousbeck said. “This is really conscience and gut feel.”

Grousbeck said a decision on Udoka’s long-term future had not been made.

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