How Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck, president Brad Stevens addressed Ime Udoka’s suspension at press conference

Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck and president of basketball operations Brad Stevens publicly addressed Ime Udoka’s season-long suspension for the first time on Friday, saying that the team came to its decision after a law firm found multiple violations of organizational policies as part of an investigation.

Grousbeck told reporters that he wouldn’t be able to share additional details on the suspension because of “privacy reasons for the people involved.” In a statement released on Thursday, Boston said that Udoka was being suspended for the entire 2022-23 season for “violations of team policies.”

The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported early Thursday that Udoka had an “improper intimate and consensual relationship with a female member of the team staff.” In a follow-up report, Charania revealed that the Celtics launched “a set of internal interviews” after the staffer accused Udoka of “making unwanted comments toward her.”

Grousbeck and Stevens declined to offer specifics on Udoka’s conduct and the investigation, but they did comment on several related topics during Friday’s press conference.

MORE: What we know about Ime Udoka’s status and who will serve as Celtics’ interim head coach

What Celtics said about Ime Udoka’s suspension

Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck

On Ime Udoka’s response

“Ime has personally told me in a private conversation, just the general theme was, I’d say, acceptance and appreciation for how this has been handled. He can speak for himself on that, and in his release last night, he did speak to that, that he accepted this suspension.”

Udoka issued this statement after the Celtics announced his suspension (via ESPN’s Malika Andrews):

I want to apologize to our players, fans, the entire Celtics organization and my family for letting them down. 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.

On reaction from Celtics players

“In general, they are very concerned about this. It’s not a welcome development, but they also, I felt, have energy and focus and commitment and drive to really accomplish great things, hopefully, this season.”

On the investigation and suspension length

Grousbeck said that the franchise learned about the situation over the summer and called in a law firm. He added that the investigation concluded on Wednesday.

After discussing disciplinary action with other members of the organization, Grousbeck felt that a season-long suspension was “well warranted and appropriate, backed by substantial research and evidence and facts.”

“The suspension is for a season through June 30. We will make a determination at a later time about Ime’s future with us. That will be discussed another time and has not been decided at this point.”

On the financial ramifications of the suspension

“The suspension comes with a significant financial penalty when you net it all out. That’s an accurate statement, a very significant financial penalty.”

Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens

On social media speculation about the female staffer

“We have a lot of talented women in our organization, and I thought yesterday was really hard on them. I think that nobody can control Twitter speculation and rampant bulls—, but I do think that we as an organization have a responsibility to make sure we’re there to support them now because a lot of people were dragged unfairly into that. …

“That was really unfair, in my opinion. And I don’t know how we control Twitter. And obviously, there’s only so much we can say. But our job is to support, and our job is to be there as everybody goes through the hard time. And everybody digests this stuff differently, obviously, but yesterday was unfair to them.”

On Joe Mazzulla replacing Ime Udoka

Stevens confirmed previous reports indicating that Mazzulla will serve as the Celtics’ interim head coach.

The 34-year-old, who played at West Virginia from 2006-11 and was a member of the 2009-10 Mountaineers team that reached the Final Four, joined Boston’s coaching staff in 2019.

“It’s not easy timing for him or the rest of the staff, but he’s an exceptionally sharp and talented person. I believe strongly in him and his ability to lead people, his ability to galvanize a room and get [people] behind him and his ability to organize and understand all that comes with running a team during a season.”

On whether he considered a second stint as the Celtics’ head coach

Stevens spent eight seasons as Boston’s head coach (from 2013-21) before transitioning to a front-office role.

“Joe’s the best choice to do that by a long shot. As you go through the whole process, it all hits you, but I think that we have the best people in place to do that. And Joe is the best person to do that in our organization. …

“There are a lot of factors in play of why I wouldn’t necessarily even want to do that, but I think that — and I’ve told Joe this — I’m gonna be there for him without stepping on his toes as much as he needs. But he doesn’t need much. I believe in that strongly.”

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