- Ime Udoka has been officially named as the 18th head coach in Boston Celtics history.
- Udoka spent seven seasons as Gregg Popovich’s assistant before moving to Philadelphia last season and Brooklyn this campaign.
- During his introductory press conference, Udoka talked about pushing the Celtics’ young stars to become even greater than they currently are.
The Boston Celtics officially announced the hiring of Ime Udoka as their new head coach on Monday.
News of Udoka’s hiring broke last week but it was only on Monday morning when the Celtics made it official.
Udoka has interviewed for several head coaching jobs in recent years. He was linked to the Cleveland Cavaliers’ opening in 2019, the Bulls, Pacers, Knicks, and Sixers one year ago. He was considered due to for a shot at a head coaching job and he now has one.
More than anything, what separated Udoka from the other candidates is his connection with Boston’s three stars- Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart. The three participated in the 2019 World Cup for Team USA where Udoka was an assistant for Gregg Popovich. Reportedly, the three were impressed by Udoka.
18th Coach in Celtics History
Ime Udoka is officially our 18th Head Coach ☘️ pic.twitter.com/geTZ3tw6kZ
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) June 28, 2021
Udoka becomes the 18th coach in Celtics franchise history. By taking over from Stevens, Udoka has big shoes to fill as his predecessor led the Celtics to a 354-282 record and seven consecutive playoff trips, including three Conference Finals appearances.
The 43-year old was unpicked in the 2000 NBA Draft. He spent several years in the minors before finally getting the call to play for the Lakers in 2003. That stint ended in just four games and he returned to Europe. Udoka also grinded with the Knicks, Blazers, and Kings but his most significant stint was three seasons across two tour of duties with the San Antonio Spurs.
After his retirement, he became an assistant under Gregg Popovich for seven seasons before moving to Philadelphia in 2020 and Brooklyn last season. This will mark Udoka’s first time to become a head coach in any league and the Celtics are hoping coach number 18 will be the one to bring home banner no 18 to the TD Garden.
Pushing Boston’s Young Stars
Ime Udoka on Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown: “We have two young pillars I’m excited to work with… The perception of them outside of this organization is All-NBA level players, MVP-caliber players… It’s my job to push them to be greater, and the sky’s the limit with those guys.” pic.twitter.com/vX2wBAn0UW
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) June 28, 2021
During his first interview as the new Celtics’ coach, Udoka talked about pushing Boston’s young stars to be even greater than they already are.
Once primed to compete for the NBA title, the Celtics seemed to have lost ground in the Eastern Conference with the likes of Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee emerging as the new elites. But with a talented core of Jayson Tatum, Jalen, Brown, and Marcus Smart, the Celtics have the physical tools. It will be up to Udoka to harness their skills and take this team back to the top. Given the relationship that the three have with their new coach, that may not be hard to do.
The challenge for Udoka and Stevens would be to finding the talent to surround their stars with. The Celtics traded for Evan Fournier at the deadline and may be looking to re-sign the Frenchman after trading Kemba Walker. Al Horford is back with his leadership and toughness. Boston also has young talents like Payton Pritchard, Robert Williams, Grant Williams, and Romeo Langford.