Boston Celtics president Brad Stevens said the social-media speculation related to allegations against head coach Ime Udoka was "unfair" to women on the NBA team's staff.
The Celtics announced Thursday night that Udoka would be suspended for the 2022-23 season for "violations of team policies," but the statement didn't come until 21 hours after Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic reported Udoka engaged in an "improper intimate and consensual relationship" with a female staffer, leading to unfounded rumors.
"We have a lot of talented women in our organization and yesterday was really hard on them," Stevens told reporters Friday. "Nobody can control Twitter speculation, rampant bulls--t."
He added: "We have a responsibility to make sure we are there to support them."
Some members of the Boston organization knew about the relationship since July and believed it was consensual, but Charania reported the woman recently came forward to say Udoka was "making unwanted comments toward her," leading to an internal investigation.
No further information about what the probe discovered was publicly released. The Celtics' announcement stated Udoka's future with the franchise beyond this season would be decided "at a later date."
Assistant coach Joe Mazzulla is taking over the coaching staff on an interim basis.
Mazzulla was arrested in 2009 on a domestic violence charge while he was a player at West Virginia University. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct and was given a $100 fine and sentenced to 40 hours of community service.
"When I was considering hiring him as an assistant, I vetted him thoroughly," Stevens said Friday. "I believe strongly in his substantiveness as a person. He's been very open with me on how those incidents impacted him."
Mazzulla previously served as a head coach at Fairmont State from 2017 through 2019.
Other assistants on Boston's staff include Damon Stoudamire, Ben Sullivan, Aaron Miles and Tony Dobbins.
Udoka was hired by the Celtics in June 2021 after Stevens vacated the head coaching role to accept the role as president of basketball operations. He guided the C's to an appearance in the 2022 NBA Finals in his first season. They lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games.
Boston will start the new season Oct. 18 when the Philadelphia 76ers visit TD Garden.