Former Nigeria basketball international, Ime Udoka has been named as the new coach of the Boston Celtics in the National Basketball Association (NBA).
The 43-year-old was recruited by the Celtics’ outgoing head coach Brad Stevens, who has been promoted to the team’s president of basketball operations to replace Danny Ainge.
Udoka arrives in Boston after stints as an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs, the Philadelphia 76ers and most recently the Brooklyn Nets, all of whom reached the playoffs during his time with them.
“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,” Udoka told the team’s website.
“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.”
The US-born Udoka becomes the first Nigerian-American to be appointed as a head coach in the NBA.
He represented Nigeria in international competition throughout his playing career, earning bronze medals in 2005 and 2011 at the African Championships.
Stevens is convinced that Udoka is the right man to take over from him.
“Among the many outstanding qualities that Ime brings to the table are his character, humility, and competitiveness,” Stevens said on the Celtics website.
“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.”
In addition to his coaching experience in the NBA, Udoka was also an assistant coach for Gregg Popovich and the USA Basketball Men’s National Team in 2018.
Udoka played 12 years of professional basketball, including seven seasons in the NBA from 2003-04 to 2010-11, as he played for 316 career games with San Antonio, Portland, Sacramento, New York, and the Los Angeles.