Ime Udoka officially was named the 18th head coach in Boston Celtics history Monday.
And Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens explained what made Udoka stand out in an extensive group of coaching candidates.
“… I did talk to a lot of people, some that were publicized and many others that weren’t,” Stevens said during Udoka’s introductory press conference. “And ultimately it is an amazing group of talented coaches whether they have been head coaches before or have not got their shot yet that are out there in the NBA. So, to separate yourself amongst all of them was difficult, but Ime did that.
“And again I go back to he’s got a great basketball acumen. He’s got a great understanding. But to me that’s something that a lot of people have,” Stevens continued. “It’s his authenticity, his ability to be tough and yet very warm and it’s his experience. And I think not only his experience of playing, but being No. 8 through No. 15 on the roster a lot, and then being in San Antonio for all those years, and then I think the last two years getting a chance to see two totally different things up close in Philadelphia and Brooklyn is a great great thing.
“We can go on and on with the adjectives, but that really stood out as separating him throughout this process.”
Udoka had been recognized for his empathy and ability to care and relate to players, as well. The nine-year assistant, though, expressed how he’ll have no problem delivering some tough coaching, and noted he’s already heard from players who are appreciative of that.
“This was his first choice and this was your first choice and it’s as simple as that,” Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck said.
Udoka noted what stood out to him about the Celtics’ brass, as well. Essentially, he appreciates the group’s passion, which he can relate to.