Jeff Van Gundy Supports ‘Terrific’ Ime Udoka, Believes He Will Coach Again

'I think he's a terrific man'


October 21, 2022

Two games into the season, the dark cloud of the Ime Udoka scandal still hangs over the Boston Celtics.

It’s sure to be a storyline throughout the campaign as the Celtics pivoted quickly just prior to the start of training camp and gave the reins to interim head coach Joe Mazzulla, who is the youngest coach in the NBA this season.

It became a talking point for former NBA coach turned ESPN commentator Jeff Van Gundy while he served as a color analyst for ESPN during Boston’s game Friday night against the Miami Heat. Van Gundy made several cringe-worthy comments and seemingly defended Udoka despite claiming to not know much about the situation the coach got himself in.

“I want to make sure, because I feel strongly about this, Ime Udoka, I don’t know everything about that situation,” Van Gundy said on the telecast, as transcribed by The Boston Globe’s Chad Finn. “But I know there’s a way back. And I’m not condoning or condemning anything that he did. Like I said, I don’t know anything about that situation other than, Ime Udoka I worked with for two years with USA Basketball. And he’s proven obviously to be a terrific, terrific coach, but beyond that, I know how he treated me. That’s how I judge people. I think he’s a terrific man.”

The Celtics suspended Udoka for the entire 2022-23 season due to multiple “violations of team policies.” Udoka reportedly had an improper relationship with a Celtics staffer and made “unwanted comments” toward the individual.

After spending nine seasons as an assistant in the NBA, Udoka got his first head coaching gig last season with the Celtics, having a tremendous amount of success by guiding Boston to an NBA Finals appearance.

But even with this black mark now on Udoka’s résumé, Van Gundy firmly believes he will be back coaching in the NBA in the future.

“Whether it’s with the Celtics or some other team, people insinuating that he’ll never get another opportunity, I think are dead wrong,” Van Gundy said, per Finn. “He will be back, and I think he will be better than ever.”

Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
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