Monday, October 3, 2022

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Celtics head coach Ime Udoka’s fiancee Nia Long was ‘BLINDLY’ due to his affair with a staff member

Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka’s long-time fiancée, Nia Long, was reportedly caught off guard by his reported affair with a staffer of the team, leading to his year-long suspension despite the club confronting him about its investigation months ago.

Long, the 51-year-old former Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star, had moved to the Boston area with the couple’s 10-year-old son two weeks ago and was recently house-hunting with Udoka, according to TMZ.

She was reportedly unaware of the allegations until a few days ago, although the Celtics had been investigating the matter with Udoka’s knowledge for months, reports TMZ.

Now Long is asking for privacy through her spokeswoman.

“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 rep. “I ask that my privacy be respected as I process the recent events. Most importantly, I am a mother and will continue to focus on my children.”

Udoka, the Celtics’ sophomore head coach with a once-stellar reputation, was suspended for the entirety of the upcoming season on Thursday for “multiple” unspecified team rule violations. He also suffered a “significant financial penalty.”

The 45-year-old was reportedly in an inappropriate but consensual relationship with a female team member, but that hardly explains why Udoka is sidelined for 2022-23 and possibly longer. In the team statement appointing assistant Joe Mazzulla as interim coach, Boston said Udoka’s future would be decided “at a later date”.

The situation is confusing, not only because Boston is pausing a coach who guided the team to the NBA Finals in its first season, but also because the Celtics have turned what was supposedly a private and supposedly consensual relationship into a public affair — something the Stephen A Smith grabbed Friday.

“My problem is that you have published his personal affairs in all airways,” Smith said while wondering why a suspension was necessary.

Celtics legend Paul Pierce also argued on Twitter that Udoka’s punishment “should only be a fine and not a suspension.”

The Athletic posed questions about the relationship on Thursday night, reporting that Udoka was accused by the woman of making “unwelcome comments” towards her, prompting the Celtics to launch internal interviews that ultimately led to his suspension.

Another complication is Udoka’s somber relationship with Long.

A report from Bally Sports claims the couple “broke up before the current edition,” but the two appeared to be on good terms as recently as May, when the former Fresh Prince of Bel-Air tweeted a video of himself in a pose danced in celebration as his Celtics qualified for the finals.

Then there was Udoka’s own statement on Thursday, which included a cryptic reference to his loved ones’ disappointment: “I want to apologize to our players, fans, the entire Celtics organization and my family for letting them down.”

The Celtics should open training camp on Tuesday as the logical favorite to reach the Finals again and potentially compete for a record 18th NBA championship.

Instead, Boston now faces leadership issues while Udoka struggles to salvage his once-promised career.

Udoka’s career up until now had been a story of perseverance.

He wasn’t gifted with great physical gifts, but his love of the game and 6ft 6 frame provided a strong foundation growing up in Portland, where he eventually bonded with the future NBA star and his assistant with the Celtics , Damon Stoudemire, befriended .

“Growing up, one of the things that motivated me to come into the NBA was that whatever my peers were doing, I wanted to do the opposite,” Udoka told The Athletic in April. “Everyone’s partying outside? To step? Depend? I will open the gym. I didn’t go to prom. I didn’t go to high school. I was at the gym.’

He played at three colleges before graduating from Portland State University and eventually starting his pro career in the NBDL with the Charleston Lowgators.

Brief stints with the Los Angeles Lakers, French teams and G-League teams followed before Udoka saw more action with the New York Knicks, Portland Trail Blazers and finally the San Antonio Spurs.

In San Antonio, Udoka developed into a reliable full-back under coach Gregg Popovich.

“My thing was always thinking about the game,” said Udoka. “And if you can’t do that, outperform your more experienced opponent by being physically and mentally tougher.”

After briefly playing for Sacramento and later returning to San Antonio, Udoka landed one of the most coveted coaching jobs as Popovich’s assistant.

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