Ime Udoka evidently checked a lot of boxes for the Boston Celtics in their search for a new head coach.
But what exactly drew the C’s to Udoka, who reportedly will assume the role Brad Stevens vacated earlier this month upon being promoted to president of basketball operations with Danny Ainge retiring?
Well, Christopher Gasper of WCVB-TV is hearing the Celtics liked Udoka because of his “passion for the game” and his “compassion for the players.”
Gasper also notes that Udoka’s strategic preparation impressed the Celtics and that him having been an NBA player was attractive.
Udoka, 43, spent parts of sevens seasons in the NBA as a player, suiting up for the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs and Sacramento Kings. His most extensive playing experience came with San Antonio, where he appeared in 160 regular-season games across three seasons.
Udoka joined the Spurs as an assistant coach under Gregg Popovich in 2012. He later joined Brett Brown’s staff with the Philadelphia 76ers before serving as an assistant coach with the Brooklyn Nets this season.
Sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Udoka quickly separated himself in Boston’s coaching search, with his candidacy helped by strong recommendations from Celtics stars Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart — a trio that played for Udoka on Team USA in the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
“Udoka is the guy their main guys wanted and Stevens got him before anyone else could.” a source told Yahoo! Sports’ Keith Smith on Wednesday.
According to Wojnarowski, Milwaukee Bucks assistant Darvin Ham and Los Angeles Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups had multiple interviews with the Celtics before Boston opted for Udoka.