Celtics coach Ime Udoka is already facing a possible yearlong suspension for an improper intimate and consensual affair with a female member of the team’s staff. Now comes word that he is considering resigning altogether.
Sources told Sports Illustrated on Thursday that the 45-year-old, who has been in a relationship with actress Nia Long since 2010, is thinking about stepping down in the wake of the scandal.
Doing so would likely have a dramatic impact on the Celtics, who reached the NBA Finals last season for the first time since 2010 in what was Udoka’s first season at the helm. Multiple reports indicate that Celtics assistant Joe Mazzulla is expected to take over as Boston’s interim coach either way.
Should Udoka resign, it would be a stunning downfall for one of the league’s best coaches.
A one-time member of the Knicks as a player in 2006, he also had stints with the Trail Blazers, Spurs and Kings before turning to coaching. Udoka began his coaching career in 2012 as an assistant under Gregg Popovich in San Antonio, where he helped the Spurs to a championship in 2014 and was a major factor in LaMarcus Aldridge’s decision to join the team the following year (the two played together in Portland during Aldridge’s rookie season).
Udoka was then hired by the Sixers as an assistant under Brett Brown in 2019 and spent one year with the organization before joining the Nets in October of 2020, a month after Steve Nash was named head coach. He also spent just one year in Brooklyn before being named Celtics head coach after Brad Stevens moved to the front office in June 2021.
Under Udoka, Boston went 51-31 in the regular season. He also helped elevate the play of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, with Boston eventually losing in six games to the Warriors in the NBA Finals.
Now, it seems Udoka could be on his way out.