After a month of transitions in which the Celtics lost their longtime president of basketball operations, Danny Ainge, to retirement and had their former head coach, Brad Stevens, promoted to replace him, the team is getting back to normalcy with the formal announcement of the franchise's 18th head coach, Ime Udoka.
Udoka, who played in seven NBA seasons, has been an assistant coach in the league for nearly a decade and has spent time on the coaching staffs of the San Antonio Spurs, Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets.
He has also played in international competition for Nigeria's national team and was on the coaching staff for USA Basketball's men's team in 2018.
Speaking to reporters at an introductory press conference today, Udoka said it was easy to see why the Celtics have been such a successful organization. Now, he's looking forward to helping his players, especially young stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, reach their potential.
"When all the job openings happened this summer, I think it was pretty evident that Boston is the one — the most attractive based on the organization, the history, the expectations, but also the players and the roster," he said.
Stevens, whose made big moves early in his tenure as president of basketball operations, said the organization is excited to have Udoka as the team's head coach, pointing to Udoka's personal traits as something that stood out during the coaching search.
"It's his authenticity, his ability to be tough and yet very warm and his experience," Stevens said of Udoka.
As the Celtics' new head coach, Udoka will be tasked with helping guide the Celtics back to championship contention after a disappointing season plagued by injury, complications caused by COVID-19 and an early exit out of the first-round of the playoffs.
Despite all of the troubles of the past year, however, Udoka pointed to the team's centerpieces of Tatum and Brown, both of whom are in their early twenties, as reasons to be optimistic.
"When you have two young pillars at that age, the sky's the limit," he said. "And that's what it starts with. You're only as good as your players and where you push them to get to. And we understand, we've talked about this in depth, we have some work to do. And so that's my job: To bring out the best in them, continue to strive for what this organization is about, and it's about winning."
Udoka's hiring is a fresh start for a team that seemed stuck in the mud at the end of the past season. If Udoka has his way, there may be some more intensity on display on the court when the next season tips off.
"And you know, I like to try to bring the dog out in guys," Udoka said. "And we've got some young dogs here and [I] look forward to pushing them."