sport news Celtics head coach Ime Udoka's fiancé Nia Long 'was BLINDSIDED by his affair ... trends now
Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka's longtime fiancé Nia Long was reportedly blindsided by his reported affair with a female member of the team's staff, resulting in his year-long suspension, even though the club had confronted him with its investigation months ago.
Long, the 51-year-old former Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star, had moved to the Boston area two weeks ago with the couple's 10-year-old son and had recently been house hunting with Udoka, according to TMZ.
She reportedly was unaware of the allegations until the last few days, even though the Celtics had been investigating the matter with Udoka's knowledge for months, TMZ reports.
Now, through her spokeswoman, Long is asking for privacy.
'The outpouring of love and support from family, friends and the community during this difficult time means so much to me,' Long told TMZ through her spokeswoman. '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.'
Udoka, the Celtics' second-year head coach with a once-sterling reputation, was suspended for all of the upcoming season on Thursday over 'multiple' unspecified violations of team rules. He also suffered a "significant financial penalty.'
Reports say the 45-year-old had an improper, but consensual relationship with a female member of the team's staff, yet that hardly explains why Udoka is being sidelined for 2022-23, and potentially longer. In the team statement naming assistant Joe Mazzulla as interim coach, Boston said Udoka's future would be determined 'at a later date.'
Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka's longtime fiancé Nia Long was reportedly blindsided by his reported affair with a female member of the team's staff, resulting in his year-long suspension, even though the club had confronted him with its investigation months ago
Udoka guided the Boston Celtics to the NBA Finals in his first season as the team's head coach
The situation is puzzling, not only because Boston is sidelining a coach that guided the team to the NBA Finals in his first season, but also because the Celtics have turned an ostensibly private and reportedly consensual relationship into a public matter – something that ESPN's Stephen A. Smith has seized upon Friday.
'My issue is you have his personal business publicized all over the airways,' Smith said, while questioning why a suspension was necessary.
Celtics legend Paul Pierce, too, argued on Twitter that Udoka's punishment 'should just be a fine not a suspension.'
The Athletic raised questions about the relationship Thursday night, reporting that Udoka was accused by the woman of making 'unwanted comments' to her, prompting the Celtics to launch internal interviews that ultimately led to his suspension.
Further complicating matters is Udoka's murky relationship with Long.
One report, from Bally Sports, claims the couple was 'separated prior to the current issue,' but the two appeared to be on good terms as recently as May, when the former Fresh Prince of Bel-Air tweeted video of herself dancing in celebration as his Celtics qualified for the Finals.
Then there was Udoka's own statement Thursday, which made a cryptic reference to disappointing his loved ones: 'I want to apologize to our players, fans, the entire Celtics organization, and my family for letting them down.'
The Celtics were set to open training camp on Tuesday as a logical favorite to reach the Finals once again, and potentially compete for an NBA-record 18th championship.
Instead, Boston is now faced with questions of leadership, while Udoka is fighting to save his once-promising career.
Udoka's career, until now, had been a tale of perseverance.
He wasn't blessed with great physical gifts, but his love for the game and 6-foot-6 frame were a strong foundation as he grew up in Portland, where he ultimately befriended future NBA star and his assistant with the Celtics, Damon