October 3, 2022

Boston Celtics suspend coach Aimee Odoka for the 2022-23 season, effective immediately

Boston Celtics suspend coach Aimee Odoka for the 2022-23 season, effective immediately

The Boston Celtics announced, Thursday evening, the suspension of coach Aimee Odoka for the 2022-23 season.

The Celtics cited violations of team policies in their announcement. Sources previously told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Udoka had an intimate relationship with one of the franchise employees.

The team said the suspension is effective immediately, and a decision on Odoka’s future with the organization will be made at a later date.

“I want to apologize to our players, fans, the entire Celtics organization and my family for letting them down,” Udoka said in a statement to Malika Andrews of ESPN. “I am sorry to put the team in such a difficult situation, and I agree with the team’s decision. Out of respect for everyone involved, I will have no further comment.”

Commentary over the course of the season is largely unprecedented for an NBA head coach.

Sources told Wojnarowski that the Celtics have appointed assistant coach Joe Mazzola as interim coach. Odoka’s assistant coach Will Hardy left the team in June to become the Utah Jazz coach.

Odoka joined the Celtics last summer after spending time with the San Antonio Spurs, Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets as an assistant coach after his NBA career.

Replaced Brad Stevens as coach. Stevens went upstairs to be Boston’s chief of basketball operations after his predecessor in the position, Danny Inge, chose to leave the organization.

In his first season as coach, Odoka oversaw a remarkable turnaround in Boston, which saw the Celtics turn from under 0.500 in late January to finish the season with a record 28-7 over their last 35 games. They then composed an impressive run through the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, advancing to the NBA Finals for the first time in 12 years.

Odoka is the fifth coach in the past 25 years to reach the NBA Finals in his first season as a first coach and the first since Nick Norse in 2019.

He also, according to ESPN Stats & Information, became the first junior coach to win multiple Game 7s in his first season. Odoka led Boston to victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference semifinals and the Miami Heat finals in seven games before the Celtics lost to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals in six games.

ESPN’s Tim Bontemps contributed to this report.