Ime Udoka begins his tenure with the Boston Celtics Wednesday as their 18th head coach vs. the upstart New York Knicks. This season will be a fresh start for the Boston Celtics as Brad Stevens left the bench for the front office and Ime Udoka took over. With the Atlantic Division there for the taking, what type of impact will Ime Udoka have on the Boston Celtics this season?
The Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics finished 39-39 - seventh in the Eastern Conference - and lost to the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs in a gentlemen's sweep. Brad Stevens went upstairs to handle Boston Celtics transactions off the floor, and he hired Ime Udoka to transition the team into hopefully a new era of success.
Ime Udoka and Nia Long
Being engaged to one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood is something Ime Udoka and Nia Long kept out of the public eye. The power couple have been engaged since 2015, and as he begins in Boston, surely fans and media will have questions about the celebrity couple when accessible. There is a cool air about the couple that is storybook material, and as Ime Udoka gains a foothold in the Boston area, having Nia Long around the team will only enhance expectations. As expectations rise, hopefully for Boston Celtics fans, so will team play.
What Ime Udoka brings to the Boston Celtics
The 6'6" 44 year old, who played five seasons in the NBA primarily as a shooting guard/small forward, has a coaching record of 16-8 in seven years as an assistant. He began coaching with the San Antonio Spurs under Gregg Popovich in 2012 and was an assistant in 2014 when San Antonio beat the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. Ime Udoka joined the Philadelphia 76ers for one season and then the Brooklyn Nets for the next before landing in Boston. His time spent around the NBA as a journeyman player here and abroad augmented a knowlege of the game. Being primarily a bench player and seeing the game from that perspective essentially amounted to a coaching education, and hopefully the Boston Celtics will benefit.
Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart
Ime Udoka coached Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart on Gregg Popovich's staff for the 2019 World Cup Tournament, and that experience is what in part led to Brad Stevens hiring Ime Udoka. Having the current roster supporting Ime Udoka will facilitate a chemistry that will show and prove late in games and in the payoffs. Being a wing himself, the first-year coach is young enough to make an impression on the Boston Celtics' stellar wing players in Tatum and Brown.
Ime Udoka is the first African to coach in the NBA. He and his sister, Mfon Udoka, are the first brother and sister to play in the NBA and WNBA, respectively. Playing and starring for the Nigerian team at the FIBA World Championships in 2006, Ime Udoka led the team in scoring, assists and steals. He also competed for Nigeria in 2005 and 2011. His world view is a major advantage to use in Boston. He could also add to any scouting reach being he knows more about the globe, and down the line the Boston Celtics may be able to pluck a diamond player in the rough.
The Atlantic Division
With the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers, the leaders last season in the Atlantic Division in flux, Ime Udoka and the Boston Celtics potentially can leapfrog those teams if the Boston Celtics roster comes together and capitalizes on the superstar play of Jayson Tatum and the boiling underneath the surface play of Jaylen Brown. The two are on the edge of their primes and Boston has a true opportunity even as the Toronto Raptors and especially the New York Knicks look to climb in the Atlantic themselves. Because of everything going on in the division, expect heightened play throughout. The spotlight will be on the Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks and the Philadelphia 76ers the most, and Boston just may be able to sneak in and gain a firm grip on the top of the division.
Poll : Where will the Boston Celtics finish in the Eastern Conference under Ime Udoka?