Boston Celtics: Ex-Basketballer, Ime Udoka Makes History As First Nigerian Head Coach In NBA
The 43-year-old becomes with his appointment becomes the first Nigerian to coach a team in the NBA and the 18th head coach in its 75-year history.
Ime Udoka was hired as head coach of the team after nine years as an assistant.
NBA team broke the news in a statement on its website on Monday with Brad Stevens, Celtics President of Basketball Operations, praising the array of values that Udoka will be bringing to the team.
Among the many outstanding qualities that Ime brings to the table are his character, humility, and competitiveness. He has a relentless work ethic and a vast array of experiences as a player and coach.
He’s a leader that is warm and demanding, and we are so excited that he has chosen to join us in pursuit of Banner 18.
Ime Udoka is officially our 18th Head Coach ☘️ pic.twitter.com/geTZ3tw6kZ
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) June 28, 2021
On his part, Udoka said it’s an honour to be tapped for such a vital role in a team of Celtics’ standard.
He also expressed his eagerness to get the job underway, stressing;
It’s an honour to be a part of the historic Celtics franchise. Coaching this talented roster and working alongside Brad [Stevens] makes it an ideal situation.
I’d like to thank Wyc [Grousbeck, Celtics CEO], Steve [Pagliuca, co-owner], and Brad for entrusting me with this opportunity. I look forward to getting started right away.
Udoka has now become the sixth Black coach in the history of the franchise. The others were Doc Rivers (2004-13), M.L. Carr(1995-97), K.C. Jones (1983-88), Tom Sanders(1978) and Bill Russell (1966-69).
In the past, the NBA has been criticised for predominantly hiring white coaches, even though more than 70 per cent of the players on team rosters are black.
Born in America to a Nigerian father and an American mother, Udoka had some stints in NBA with La Lakers, New York Knicks, Portland Trail Blazers, Spurs and Sacramento Kings.
In between these stints in NBA, fiancé of Hollywood actress Nia Long, played in the lower leagues in America, in Argentina and in Spain.
Though born and raised in the United States, Udoka’s late father was born in Nigeria, which qualified Udoka for Nigerian citizenship.
Udoka represented Nigeria at two African Championships, one in Algeria, 2005 and Madagascar, 2011. He also played at the 2006 FIBA World Championships.
Meanwhile, his sister Mfon was also a basketball player and won two AfroBasket titles with the D’Tigress of Nigeria. She captained the side and was once an assistant coach in the team. She currently runs some skill and drills clinic in Nigeria for young basketball talents.
Since he retired from playing, Udoka has worked as a coach for a slew of NBA sides and the American national team.
He worked under the great Gregg Popovich at Spursand was recently an assistant coach at Brooklyn Nets.
On a personal note, Udoka got engaged to Hollywood actress, Nia Long in 2015 after going public about their relationship in 2010. The couple has a nine-year-old son together.