In his new function because the Celtics president of basketball operations, Brad Stevens made two huge strikes for the franchise earlier than the NBA Finals even started.
The primary was final week’s commerce of guard Kemba Walker to the Thunder in return for an outdated pal of the franchise — Al Horford. The second occurred Wednesday, as Stevens reportedly selected his alternative as head coach: Longtime NBA assistant Ime Udoka.
Udoka will step into his first place as head coach after 9 years as an assistant. He was initially employed by the San Antonio Spurs in 2012 and spent seven years teaching beneath Gregg Popovich earlier than he was poached by the Philadelphia 76ers previous to the 2019-20 season. Udoka joined Steve Nash and the Nets final offseason and helped coach Brooklyn’s star-studded squad.
So who’s Udoka? Right here’s a better have a look at the Celtics’ 18th head coach in franchise historical past.
Earlier this week, when Stevens spoke to the media for the primary time since buying and selling Walker, he stated he stayed in “shut contact” with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown concerning the Celtics’ teaching search.
Udoka had a leg up as a candidate in that regard: He was an assistant with Crew USA and coached each Tatum and Brown, in addition to Marcus Good. Per Stadium’s Jeff Goodman, all three gamers “preferred and revered” Udoka.
Udoka, a Portland native, spent his remaining collegiate season at Portland State College, the place he averaged 14.5 factors and seven.3 rebounds per sport. The Charleston Lowgators of the NBDL (now the G-League) chosen him with the thirty ninth choose within the NBDL draft, and Udoka was referred to as as much as play for the Lakers in 2004. The 26-year-old was waived after simply 4 video games.
After a quick stint abroad, Udoka returned to the NBDL and averaged 17.1 factors per sport. The Knicks inked him to a deal in 2006, however Udoka was waived as soon as once more.
This time, nonetheless, Udoka didn’t must journey to Europe — his hometown group, the Portland Path Blazers, signed him and he began all 75 video games in 2006-07.
Udoka averaged 8.4 factors per sport and hit 40.6 % of his 3-pointers that season, however the Blazers waived him in 2007 to make room for rookie Patty Mills (who, curiously, Udoka would later assist coach to a championship with the Spurs in 2014). Udoka then spent two years in San Antonio, a season in Sacramento, and one other season with the Spurs earlier than touring to Spain the place his taking part in profession got here to an finish.
Throughout Udoka’s lone season with the Blazers, he cast a relationship with then-rookie LaMarcus Aldridge. Years later in the summertime of 2015, Aldridge — by then a four-time All-Star — chartered a flight house to Dallas from Los Angeles.
Udoka was in Los Angeles as properly, and Aldridge — pondering Udoka lived in San Antonio the place he labored — provided his pal a trip.
Udoka agreed to hop on the jet. The one downside: He lived in Los Angeles.
“He’s like, ‘I reside right here [in Los Angeles] proper now. I’m flying simply to reply any questions you might need [about the Spurs],’” Aldridge said in 2015, per USA At this time. “I used to be like, ‘Man, you’re loopy.’ I stated, ‘Get off the airplane.’ He stated, ‘No, I’m going to reply any query that you’ve.’
“So I’m like, ‘You don’t have to do that. Don’t do that.’ He’s like, ‘Nah, I’m not getting off.’”
En path to Dallas, Udoka reassured Aldridge that the Spurs wanted his offensive prowess and didn’t need him to basically change who he was as a participant.
Aldridge inked a four-year $80 million cope with the Spurs later that summer season.
Udoka’s late father was born in Nigeria, which certified Udoka for Nigerian citizenship. He performed for the Nigerian males’s basketball group on the 2006 FIBA World Championships.
After leaving Portland State, Udoka created an endowment for an annual scholarship given to each a enterprise pupil and a basketball participant in honor of his father.
“His level of coming to America was for school,” Udoka instructed FIBA Basketball’s website in 2007. “He bought a level in Enterprise Administration at Portland State, met my mom right here, bought married and raised his household.”
Lengthy, who has received a number of awards together with three “Excellent Actress” NAACP Picture Awards, performed roles in movies akin to “Boyz N The Hood,” “Love Jones,” “Soul Meals” and “Large Momma’s Home.” She and Udoka went public with their relationship in 2010 and have become engaged in 2015. The couple has a nine-year-old son collectively.
Presumably Udoka has no intention of getting right into a brawl, however he’s as much as the duty for those who ask his former Nigerian males’s nationwide teammate Gabe Muoneke.
In 2007, Muoneke described a fight that broke out after a sport on the African Championships in Algiers.
“[Udoka] was taking individuals out like in Mortal Kombat,” Muoneke wrote on Hoopshype, referencing the favored, ultra-violent preventing sport. “’End him!’ Unimaginable. …
“In the course of the entire thing I heard Ime, actually in mid-swing of one other opponent say, ‘Watch again, Gabe’ and he calmly, I imply calmly, smeared a man who, as I turned to see his warning, jumped from the stands with a chair to in all probability kill me or knock me out to the place the gang would have. I imply, Ime caught the man in mid-air with a fist and calmly continued his dispatching of oncoming individuals.”
Quite a lot of voices weighed in on Udoka after the information broke, and opinions have been overwhelmingly constructive.
Rudy Homosexual instructed Stadium’s Jeff Goodman that, not like many assistant coaches, Udoka received’t inform a participant what he desires to listen to and received’t again down from anybody, however “he’s bought the proper stability. He’ll snicker and joke, however is aware of easy methods to be severe.”
One other nameless coach instructed Goodman that with Udoka, “it’s not his means or the freeway. He has an edge, however he’s not a hard-ass.”
Former NBA government Ryan McDonough stated those that have labored with Udoka see him as a “stable tactician” who’s “good at creating robust relationships with gamers.”
However in 2015, Gregg Popovich provided maybe the strongest endorsement.
“[Udoka] exudes a confidence and a consolation in his personal pores and skin the place individuals simply gravitate to him,” Popovich stated. “He’s a basically sound trainer as a result of he’s snug with himself.”
The one downside?
“He doesn’t drink, so I can’t take pleasure in a glass of wine with him,” Popovich stated. “He’s actually boring at dinner.”