Ime Udoka sounds very excited to begin his career as head coach of the Boston Celtics.
The Celtics made his hiring official Monday morning. Udoka is the 18th head coach in team history. He takes over for Brad Stevens, who held the job from 2013-14 through 2020-21. Stevens left the coaching role to replace Danny Ainge as the franchise's president of basketball operations shortly after the first-round playoff exit to the Brooklyn Nets.
Udoka explained Monday why the Celtics are a great place for him.
“It’s an honor to be a part of the historic Celtics franchise. Coaching this talented roster and working alongside Brad makes it an ideal situation,” Udoka said in a team press release. “I’d like to thank Wyc, Steve, and Brad for entrusting me with this opportunity. I look forward to getting started right away.”
Udoka has been an NBA assistant coach for the last nine seasons. He was on Gregg Popovich's staff with the San Antonio Spurs from 2012-13 through 2018-19 before joining the Philadelphia 76ers in 2019-20 and then the Nets this past season. He also was an assistant for Popovich on the United States men's basketball team.
He is a defensive-minded coach, which helps make him a good fit for this Celtics team. The bulk of the C's success during Stevens' tenure came when they were a top defensive team. Boston finished 13th in defensive rating this season after placing in the top six each of the previous three years.
Getting back to that elite defensive level will be crucial to the Celtics' success moving forward, and Udoka is the right man to lead that charge.