For the past few days, Boston Celtics fans have been sent off on a roller coaster of emotions. After hearing news that Danilo Gallinari and Robert Williams would both miss a ton of time, they then learned that Ime Udoka would be suspended from the team.
He engaged in an intimate relationship with a team staff member, and upon inspection, the team deemed the situation to be a violation of the organization’s code of conduct. In turn, they suspended him for the upcoming season, and his future in Boston is uncertain.
With Udoka being suspended, the Celtics promoted assistant coach Joe Mazzulla to interim head coach. He was named Udoka’s lead assistant when Will Hardy left to be the head coach of the Utah Jazz. After the team announced the move, Celtics forward Grant Williams gave his seal of approval by liking a tweet with the news.
This was the tweet Williams liked:
Mazzulla has been with the team since 2019, and a few years before that, he was a coach with the Maine Celtics, who were then known as the Red Claws.
During the press conference addressing the situation, Brad Stevens spoke highly of Mazzulla.
Stevens: ‘Joe’s the Best Choice’
Reporters asked Stevens if he considered taking over as head coach, and while he swiftly denied that idea, he said that he plans to support Mazzulla every step of the way, and that he’s the best person for the job.
“Joe’s the best choice to do that (take the role as head coach) by a long shot. As you go through this whole process, it hits you, but I think we have the best people in place to do that, and Joe is the best person to do that in our organization…Absolutely not (would he consider taking over as head coach)…There are a lot of factors at play as to why I wouldn’t necessarily want to do that, but I’ve told Joe that I’m going to be there for him without stepping on his toes,” Stevens explained.
While it will be a golden opportunity for Mazzulla, it doesn’t come under positive circumstances. The Udoka situation has clearly taken a toll on the organization.
‘There Has Been an Emotional Toll’
From the perspective of the fans, this news came out of nowhere. The team reportedly knew about the situation since July, but contracted an unbiased law firm to conduct an investigation, which concluded this past week.
According to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston, the results shook the organization to its core.
“You could tell there has been an emotional toll that has been taken on by the front office, and you’ve gotta figure this extends throughout the organization. This has rattled them, and it’s taken them by surprise. You can tell an off-season with so much optimism has now been diminished, and now there’s an uncertainty moving forward and how is this going to work? And I think there’s just a lot of questions and uncertainty right now. I didn’t expect that, Brad is the most unflappable of the people around the Celtics, and when his voice quivered as he gave his opening statement …It’s remarkable to me just how much (this situation) has stung them,” Forsberg said on September 23.
It’s unclear whether or not Udoka will ever return to the Celtics, but right now, the situation is proving very difficult for the organization to deal with.