Update: Nia Long Speaks Out — Boston Celtics Suspends Ime Udoka After Relationship With Staffer

After reports surfaced that Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka had an intimate, but consensual, relationship with a female Celtics staffer, which is against team policy, he was suspended for the upcoming NBA season.

The NBA team released a statement Thursday.

“The Boston Celtics announced today that the team has suspended Head Coach Ime Udoka for the 2022-23 season for violations of team policies. A decision about his future with the Celtics beyond this season will be made at a later date. The suspension takes effect immediately.”

After being informed of the decision, Udoka gave a statement to ESPN:

“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.”

Since the story took flight many on social media defended Nia Long, Udoka’s longtime girlfriend and Black Hollywood darling who starred in pivotal roles in the 90s. Long has since released a statement of her own thanking fans and family for the support:

“The outpouring of love and support from family, friends and the community during this difficult time means so much to me,” Long said to PEOPLE. “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.”

Assistant coach Joe Mazzulla has been named the interim head coach.

After replacing head coach Brad Stevens, who became the Celtics’ president of basketball operations, Udoka became the fifth head coach in the last 25 years to take his team to the NBA Finals in his first season as head coach.

In last year’s playoffs, according to ESPN Stats & Information, Udoka was the first rookie coach to win multiple Game 7s in his first playoffs appearance, leading his team to wins over the Milwaukee Bucks  in the Eastern Conference Semifinals and the Miami Heat to the in the Eastern Conference Finals after eliminating them in seven games.

Ultimately, the Celtics ran out of steam against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, losing 4-2 to the Stephen Curry-led squad.