Ime Udoka is breaking his silence.
After the Boston Celtics head coach was suspended Thursday for allegedly having a consensual intimate relationship with a woman on the team’s staff, which sources previously confirmed to PEOPLE, Udoka, 45, responded to the suspension.
“I want to apologize to our players, fans, the entire Celtics organization, and my family for letting them down,” Udoka wrote in a statement, which was obtained and shared online by ESPN’s Malika Andrews.
“I am sorry for putting the team in this difficult situation, and I accept the team’s decision,” the statement continues. “Out of respect for everyone involved, I will have no further comment.”
A representative for the Celtics did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
The NBA team suspended Udoka, who was named the Celtics’ head coach in June 2021, in an official statement on Twitter Thursday.
“The Boston Celtics announced today that the team has suspended Head Coach Ime Udoka for the 2022-23 season for violations of team policies,” the statement reads. “A decision about his future with the Celtics beyond this season will be made at a later date. The suspension takes effect immediately.”
The affair between the engaged head coach and the staffer is considered a violation of team guidelines, ESPN, who was first to report the news, said.
Udoka has been in a relationship with longtime girlfriend, Fatal Affair actress Nia Long, since they met in 2010. The two share a 10-year-old son, Kez Sunday, and confirmed their engagement in May 2015. Long, 51, previously told Essence in 2020 that they were comfortable not holding a wedding ceremony.
The Celtics are currently a month away from starting the season with an Oct. 18 home game against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Udoka is a former professional basketball player who has had a successful second career as a coach in the NBA. He spent seven years with head coach Gregg Popovich at the San Antonio Spurs, with the team winning a championship in 2014.
Since leaving the team in 2019, Udoka served as an assistant coach for the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets. He joined the Celtics in 2021 as a head coach and led the team to the 2022 NBA Finals in his first year at the helm. This was set to be his second season with the franchise.
During last season’s NBA Finals, Boston fell in six games to the Golden State Warriors. But it was a major improvement for the team, which was making its first Finals appearance since 2010. (People)