Celtics’ Ime Udoka reveals three teams that replaced him for head coaching positions originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Boston Celtics are heading to the 2022 NBA Finals after defeating the Miami Heat on the road in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
One of the main reasons Boston is only four wins away from the 18th franchise championship is the genius of its rookie head coach, Ime Udoka.
Udoka turned out to be an excellent choice with this list. He maximized the production of so many players on the roster by putting them in the right roles to succeed. He’s also done a great job of holding those players accountable and pushing them hard enough to see consistent improvement. His defensive intelligence helped turn the Celtics into the most feared team in the league at this end of the field. He often makes the right adjustments, whether it’s in-game tweaks or changes between games during a playoff series.
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Simply put, the Celtics made a great hire by bringing in Udoka at the start of the season.
But Udoka’s journey to the head coaching ranks hasn’t been easy. Udoka was a highly regarded assistant for several years, yet he was consistently ignored by teams with vacant head coaching positions.
In an interview with Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes after the Celtics’ Game 7 win over the Miami Heat, Udoka revealed three teams that made him a finalist for their head coaching job, but ultimately chose the other candidate.
“Do you really want me to tell you? Detroit, Indiana, Cleveland,” Udoka said. “I can go through the list. It was difficult because I believe I was ready.
“But I couldn’t be more proud to be part of an organization that pushes for victory and championships. You can be in a lot of different situations. There are only 30 teams and I understand that, but don’t being in a rebuild and being in a pressure-filled waiting situation, I wouldn’t trade that on any day.”
Finishing second so many times must have been frustrating, but it all worked out in the end for Udoka, who landed one of the most prestigious athletic coaching jobs with the Celtics.
Instead of trying to rebuild the Pistons or lead good-but-not-great Pacers and Cavaliers teams, Udoka is now in charge of leading one of the most comprehensive rosters in the league, headlining two young stars of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
It wouldn’t be surprising if Udoka had been Boston’s head coach for a long time.