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The Boston Celtics will appoint Nigerian-born Ime Udoka as their head coach, according to reports in the United States of America.
The Brooklyn Nets assistant coach and former D’Tigers small forward will soon be announced as the NBA team’s new head coach, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Udoka will become the first African to be the head coach of an NBA franchise in history.
In addition to working as an assistant with the Nets last season, Udoka also has experience as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs (from 2012 to 2019) and the Philadelphia 76ers (2019 to 2020).
Udoka will succeed Brad Stevens, who coached the Celtics from 2013 until last season.
Stevens has since moved into Boston’s front office, and he was responsible for hiring his own replacement.
Apparently, he considers Udoka the right guy for the job.
Udoka’s vast experience as an assistant, along with the fact that Celtics players were impressed with him after playing for him on the U.S. national team in the 2019 World Cup tournament, were major factors in his hiring, Wojnarowski reported.
Other candidates for the job included Chauncey Billups, Darvin Ham, Jason Kidd and Lloyd Pierce.
In addition to his coaching credentials, Udoka also has ample experience as a player.
After being undrafted in 2002, Nigerian Udoka played for five different franchises — the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs and Sacramento Kings.
Udoka’s major mission in Boston will be to lead the Celtics back to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010.
The fact that he has two young All-Stars on the roster in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown should certainly help his cause.
Stevens, who just moved into his new role as president of basketball operations earlier this month after Danny Ainge’s retirement, feels that his experience as the coach of the Celtics made him uniquely qualified to successfully select the team’s next coach.
“I do think I have a good insight into our team as Danny now steps away,” Stevens said at the beginning of the month.
“I feel like I’ve got a good idea of what we do well, what we don’t do so well, and I’ve been doing this for eight years. I’ve been in that locker room with some of those guys for a long time. … They’ll get to play for a great coach, with some similarities maybe, but also some great new fresh perspectives. That’s a good thing, so I’m looking forward to finding that person.”
Udoka, 43, was born to a Nigerian father and American mother.
He represented Nigeria at the AfroBasket Championships in 2005 and 2011, helping D’Tigers to bronze medals on both occasions.
His elder sister Mfon Udoka also played for Nigeria, starring for D’Tigress at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.