Brad Stevens has wasted no time in retooling the Boston Celtics roster following their playoff exit to the Brooklyn Nets.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Celtics have hired Nets assistant coach Ime Udoka as their new head coach.
Udoka replaces Stevens, who shifted from head coach to president of basketball operations following the departure of longtime general manager Danny Ainge.
Udoka was an assistant coach for the Nets in the 2020-21 season under first-time head coach Steve Nash. He also spent one season with the Philadelphia 76ers (2019-20) under former head coach Brett Brown and seven seasons as an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs under the Gregg Popovich regime.
A seven-year veteran, Udoka also brings significant playing experience as a career journeyman, having played with the Spurs, Los Angeles Lakers (then coached by Hall of Fame head coach Phil Jackson), New York Knicks (then coached by Hall of Fame head coach Larry Brown), Portland Trail Blazers (then coached by Atlanta Hawks interim head coach Nate McMillan), Sacramento Kings, (under Hall of Fame guard and then-head coach Paul Westphal).
Here’s how one coach who has worked with Ime Udoka described him to me:— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) June 23, 2021
“He listens to players and adjusts. It’s not his way or the highway. He has an edge, but he’s not a hard-ass. He’ll stand up to guys. He’s defensive-minded. He values toughness.” https://t.co/yxGFsVpQhl
What endeared Stevens to Udoka, apart from his coaching and playing experience in the league, was his tenure as an assistant coach to Popovich for the U.S National Team in the 2019 World Cup.
As was noted by Wojnarowski, many Celtics players raved about Udoka throughout the tournament, who subsequently received recommendations from players like Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart during the hiring process.
Congrats to our very own Ime Udoka.— D’Tigers | Nigeria Basketball (@NigeriaBasket) June 23, 2021
The first Nigerian head coach in NBA History!
The Celtics got a good one! Green and white like always. 🇳🇬 pic.twitter.com/zltGKz0ntA
Udoka will be the 18th head coach in Celtics franchise history and the first Nigerian head coach in NBA history.
As the Celtics seek their 18th NBA title, it seems almost too-fitting that they will have their 18th head coach at the helm.
It might just be the luck of the Irish.