Underlying Reason Celtics Fans Should Be Optimistic About Ime Udoka Hiring

Boston's coaching vacancy reportedly was the first one filled


June 23, 2021

The Boston Celtics seem to have found their next head coach with the reported hiring of longtime NBA assistant Ime Udoka.

Udoka, who has coached nine years in the league, has gained the respect of other coaches like Gregg Popovich. He’s gained the respect of players who have played for him, as well, most notably Celtics stars Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart following a USA Basketball stint.

Those all are rather obvious reasons for Celtics fans to like the decision. But there’s a one low-key factor that should elicit some optimism, too.

It’s none other than timing.

Boston’s coaching vacancy is the first one filled this offseason. Other desirable positions like the Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trail Blazers and New Orleans Pelicans all remain vacant. And while the most important aspect of Boston’s search should have been getting it right, being the first tends to be a big deal in these situations. After all, who cares if you found the right person for your vacancy if ultimately you don’t finalize the search fast enough and thus he/she accepts a position elsewhere.

“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.

Before anyone else could.

Could you imagine if the Trail Blazers hired Chauncey Billups on Tuesday night and the Celtics had an empty position? We would be sitting here speculating if the Celtics went with Udoka simply because their No. 1 option was off the board. Billups, after all, reportedly interviewed multiple times for the Celtics’ position.

Fortunately, that wasn’t the case. And now, while you can second guess if the Celtics got the right coach, you can’t second guess if they got the one they wanted. They did.

Reports further have indicated the Celtics were attracted to Udoka’s “passion for the game” and his “compassion for the players.” Additional reports noted that Tatum, Brown and Smart all were consulted with before the reported hiring, as well.

Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images
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