Ezra Shaw/Getty Ime Udoka
Less than a week after the Celtics suspended Udoka following allegations he violated team policy, players spoke to reporters about the situation during the league's annual media day.
Jayson Tatum, the 24-year-old Celtics star, told Jared Weiss of The Athletic that he and teammates learned of Udoka's suspension "on Twitter, like everybody else."
Tatum also said, "It's just an unfortunate situation, all things considered. Nobody expected this coming into the season. We were all caught off guard by everything," per USA Today.
Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald/Getty Ime Udoka
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"It's been hell for us," added point guard Marcus Smart. The 28-year-old reigning Defensive Player of the Year told reporter Jared Weiss that the timing of Udoka's suspension was especially difficult for the team to navigate. "It happened in a time that we didn't have any time to understand everything before media day...we just found out like you guys did, so we're doing our best to cope."
Udoka, 45, allegedly had a consensual intimate relationship with a woman on the team's staff, sources previously confirmed to PEOPLE. Smart said that despite the reports, "Nobody died, so we didn't lose anything," he said.
"I still love Ime as a person and as a coach. It's just something unfortunate that has happened to him. It doesn't take away anything from him as a coach, from how he turned this team around."
RELATED VIDEO: Nia Long Speaks Out amid Fiancé Ime Udoka's Alleged Affair, Suspension from Celtics
Udoka has only coached one season in Boston, making his suspension an even greater challenge for the team to overcome this season. Jaylen Brown told Weiss that not having Udoka, "definitely puts" the team's "leadership to the test." Brown explained, "Not just mine, but all of ours. Obviously, things have not gone the way we expect it, but that's life. We just have to move on."
According to Weiss, both Tatum and Brown have not spoken to the head coach since his suspension. "No conversations as far as me on my end," said Brown. "Initial reactions, we were all shocked what was going on, a little confused, but a lot of the information wasn't being shared with us or members of the team, so you can't really comment on it."
Maddie Malhotra/Getty Ime Udoka
"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."
An 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, and updates on the disciplinary action could arrive as soon as Thursday. Udoka has been with 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.