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Who is Ime Udoka? Four things to know about the Celtics’ next head coach

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The Celtics seem to have found their next head coach.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday that Boston is closing a deal with Nets assistant coach Ime Udoka to be the team’s new head coach.

The position was opened this offseason when Danny Ainge left his position as Boston general manager and former head coach Brad Stevens was promoted to the position of chief of basketball operations.

MORE: Pistons secure Cade Cunningham pick, more in NBA Mock Draft 2021

But how did the Celtics land on Udoka to be the 18th head coach in team history? Here’s everything you need to know about how Udoka was chosen with a recap of his basketball career.

Previous experience in coaching

Udoka has been in the league as an assistant coach for nearly a decade, with most of that time spent working with his former head coach in San Antonio, Gregg Popovich.

After seven seasons in the NBA and one season in 2012 playing for UCAM Murcia CB in Spain, Udoka returned to Spurs in 2012 as an assistant coach. He was on the staff in 2014 when they beat the Heat to capture the NBA championship.

Udoka joined the 76ers staff for the 2019-20 campaign before landing with the Nets at the start of the 2020-21 season.

According to Wojnarowski, Stevens appreciated Udoka’s coaching experience as an assistant coach and that he was a highly likely candidate for a head coaching position this cycle.

Day laborer player

While in his gamer days, Udoka made several saves.

Udoka, a 6-foot-6 forward, played collegially with San Francisco and Portland State and played one season with Club Sportivo Independiente, an Argentine basketball team in the National Basketball League. He was eventually selected 39th in the 2002 NBA Development League Draft and spent a season with North Charleston and did a brief stint with the Lakers in 2004 when he appeared in four games and averaged two points.

The next two seasons, 2004 and 2005, he spent in Europe, first playing for Gran Canaria in Spain and finally joining JA Vichy in France. He went through the NBDL Draft again in 2005 and was third for the Fort Worth Flyers and made it to the NBA again in 2006 with the Knicks, where he averaged 2.8 points. He had his best season in 2006-07 when he started 75 games for the Trail Blazers and averaged 8.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists. He played the next four seasons in San Antonio, where he averaged 4.5 points, 2.7 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game in 160 games, starting only in three. He made his last stop in Spain with UCAM Murcia CB in 2012 before concluding his playing career.

Compete on the world stage

Udoka’s father was born in Nigeria of Ibibian descent, which meant that Udoka could qualify to play for Nigeria in international competition.

He played for the Nigerian National Team at the 2005 FIBA ​​African Championship, where he helped the team win the bronze medal. In the final game, Udoka scored 24 points to help Nigeria defeat Algeria 88-76. He continued to play for the team, helping Nigeria out of the group stage at the 2006 FIBA ​​World Championship.

Udoka then guided the Nigerian National Team to another bronze medal at AfroBasket 2011, defeating Ivory Coast 77-67.

Even as a coach, Udoka found himself competing against international competition again. He was also an assistant coach on Popovich’s staff for the 2019 World Cup tournament with a roster that included Celtics Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart.

Player approval

Udoka has become the Celtics’ next candidate in large part because of the relationship he built with the players.

According to Wojnarowski, several players showed their support for the hiring of Udoka after working with him on Team USA.

And that’s nothing new for Udoka. According to a Sports Illustrated report, was a key factor in Lamarcus Aldridge’s landing with the Spurs after the two played together at Porland in Aldridge’s first year in the NBA.

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