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New coach Ime Udoka vows to push Boston Celtics’ stars

Oct 31, 2018; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Ime Udoka against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics on Monday introduced new coach Ime Udoka, who vowed to bring hard coaching to the team’s biggest stars.

Udoka, 43, said he’s already had conversations with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, saying that the All-Stars are “going to allow me to coach them, push them.”

“They know I’m going to be on their ass, and that’s what they like about me, they’ve asked me about that. They want to be pushed, they want to be directed toward winning, and you expect that from your stars,” Udoka said.

Former coach and new president of basketball operations Brad Stevens presented Udoka alongside owners Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca at a news conference at the team’s practice facility.

Udoka brings relationships with Tatum, Brown and Marcus Smart from their time together on the 2019 World Cup team.

“The bottom line is they want to win and help us get (championship) No. 18,” Udoka said. “That part was attractive. Obviously you see the physical talent. Now this is a chance to see them grow and become better leaders, more vocal, and continue to push them to be great.

“I’m not worried about our group worrying about hard coaching.”

Udoka averaged 5.2 points per game in 316 career games (80 starts) with the San Antonio Spurs, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers.

Udoka is a longtime disciple of Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, having worked on his staff for seven years.

–Field Level Media