Ime Udoka enters a rather unique situation with the Boston Celtics as his now boss, Brad Stevens, was on the team’s sideline for eight seasons before his arrival.
Udoka, though, seems to view it as a positive.
“It’s a very unique situation, of course, to be the head coach still in the building in that next capacity now, but it’s also very beneficial,” Udoka said Tuesday during a radio interview on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Zolak & Bertrand.”
Stevens, who took over the role vacated by Danny Ainge, previously explained how he will not get in the next coach’s way. That was before the hiring of Udoka, but the point stands. Stevens now is interested in supporting the franchise’s 18th head coach, as he knows the pressure which comes with the job in Boston.
“My door is open, but I do not want to be anything but supportive,” Stevens said during a press conference last week.
Udoka shared a similar message.
“Somebody I can lean on and talk to about things that he went through over the past eight years, being hands-on with the guys. But also, he’s great at letting me do my thing, and he made that clear from Day 1,” Udoka said on the radio program. “Danny let him do it, and ownership is great as far as that, ‘I’m gonna let you be who you are.’ The things that attracted (Stevens) to me, he’s allowing me to do, and he’s there more as a sounding board and somebody that I can obviously go next door to and talk about certain situations.
“I only see it as a benefit, and not a threat to me at all, and our conversations have been great alluding to that,” Udoka added.
Udoka, during his introductory press conference Monday, acknowledged how the “passion” of the Celtics front office, and likely Stevens, is something that stood out to him.
Udoka expressed how that same passion is possessed by guard Marcus Smart, and it’s why the new head coach sees Smart as another “foundational piece” along with the “pillars” of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.