Brooklyn Nets assistant Ime Udoka has been a candidate for head-coaching jobs over the past several cycles, including the Nets looking to hire him as far back as 2016.
One of the most-respected basketball minds in the game, the 43-year-old Udoka is now headed to the Boston Celtics to replace Brad Stevens in that role.
Remember, Stevens stepped down in that role following a premature exit in the 2021 NBA Playoffs to replace Danny Ainge as team president and chief player personnel decision-maker. In his first move, Stevens traded away Kemba Walker in a blockbuster deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Now, he has his hand-picked successor in that of Ime Udoka.
Udoka played seven seasons in the NBA after going undrafted from Portland State back in 2003. His playing experience also includes stints in Spain and France, giving the Celtics an international flavor they have apparently been seeking.
After retiring as a player, Udoka caught on as one of the top assistants for legendary San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich from 2012-19. He served in the same role with the Philadelphia 76ers from 2019-20 before being hired as part of Steve Nash’s staff with the Nets this past season.
“I’ve had a few head coaching interviews now and that’s one thing I try to say. I’m not trying to be Pop. I’ve learned a ton from him and you take those things forever with you but you have to be yourself and be authentic,” Ime Udoka once said about being a head coach. “You have to be yourself, knowing that winning basketball is we all learned the right way but you have to be your own person at the end of the day.”
He’ll now have his chance with the stories Boston Celtics.