Ime Udoka has gained the respect of many coaches around the league, and it seems he’s done the same with those who have played under him.
Udoka, a nine-year NBA assistant who reportedly was hired as the next head coach of the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, spent his first seven seasons with the San Antonio Spurs. He served under the legendary Gregg Popovich and was on staff with NBA stars like Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard and Rudy Gay. Udoka was on staff for the first two years of Gay’s time in San Antonio.
“He’s a hard-worker. He coached under a guy named Gregg Popovich, but everyone on the team and staff respected Ime,” Gay told NBA writer Jeff Goodman after the news of Boston’s hiring was first reported.
“He’s got the perfect balance,” Gay added, per Goodman. “He’ll laugh and joke, but knows how to be serious. A lot of assistants tell you what you want to hear. Ime will give it straight to you.”
The Celtics reportedly consulted with their core players including Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart before reportedly making the hire. And it seems those players were happy with the decision. One report even indicated Udoka was the candidate those three players — Tatum, Brown and Smart — wanted as the next coach.