I will ‘focus on my children’

Actress Nia Long has broken her silence after longtime fiancé Ime Udoka, the head coach of the Boston Celtics, was embroiled in a scandal and subsequently suspended.

The Boston Celtics announced on Thursday that Udoka was suspended for the entire 2022-23 season for “violations of team policies.” Boston did not detail the violations, but a person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports that Udoka had an inappropriate relationship with a female Celtics employee. The person requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the sensitive nature of the topic.

In a statement issued to CNN on Friday, Long asked for privacy.

“The outpouring of love and support from family, friends and the community during this difficult time means so much to me,” Long, 51, said. “I ask that my privacy be respected as I process the recent events. Above all, I am a mother and will continue to focus on my children.”

Long and Udoka, 45, share a 10-year-old son and have been engaged since 2015.

In his first year as coach last season, Udoka led the Celtics to an Eastern Conference title and an NBA Finals appearance, where Long was a courtside mainstay.

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“The Best Man” and “NCIS: Los Angeles” star Nia Long attends the Essence Black Women In Hollywood Awards on March 24 as one of four actresses honored at the ceremony.

Brad Stevens, Celtics president of basketball operations, and co-owner Wyc Grousbeck held a press conference on Friday. Although they did not elaborate on the violations, Grousbeck said Udoka was suspended after the Celtics received a report from an outside law firm following a months-long investigation.

Stevens said it was “really unfortunate and unnecessary” that female employees became the subject of baseless speculation.

“We have a lot of talented women in our organization. I thought yesterday was really hard on them,” Stevens said. “Nobody can control Twitter speculation, rampant (expletive), 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.”

Celtics assistant Joe Mazzulla was named interim coach.

Contributing: Nancy Armour, Jeff Zillgitt

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Nia Long speaks out after fiancé Ime Udoka suspended by Celtics

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