Ime Udoka already building chemistry with Tatum on Team USA


Boston Celtics fans have a couple big reasons to hope the 2020 Tokyo Olympics go well for Team USA.

Celtics star Jayson Tatum is one of 12 players on the USA squad that arrived in Las Vegas on Tuesday to begin Olympic training camp. But guess who's also on Team USA? His new head coach, Ime Udoka, who's an assistant on the staff of USA head coach Gregg Popovich.

USA Basketball shared an Instagram photo of Tatum and Udoka enjoying each others' company at Tuesday's practice, drawing a "like" from ex-Celtics star Isaiah Thomas and excited comments from C's fans.

Jayson Tatum Ime Udoka

Udoka was an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs for seven seasons and Popovich thinks very highly of his former coworker, so it's no surprise Udoka is on the Team USA staff.

It's not Udoka's first stint for USA Basketball, either: He was an assistant at the 2019 FIBA World Cup, where he developed a relationship with Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart that played a key role in helping him land the Boston coach job.

Forsberg: Can Ime Udoka push Celtics' core to new heights?

Most head coaches hired in the offseason don't get to work with their players until training camp, so this is a great opportunity for Udoka and Tatum to spend some time together.


As an added bonus, assistant coach Will Hardy -- who reportedly is joining Udoka's coaching staff in Boston after working for Popovich in San Antonio -- is expected to join Team USA, as well.

The Americans' training camp runs through July 18 and will feature several exhibition games, the first of which is Saturday against Nigeria at 8 p.m. ET.