Boston Celtic coach Ime Udoka
He is the first head coach of African origin in the NBA league history. Ime Sunday Udoka (born August 9, 1977) is a Nigerian-American basketball coach and former player of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He represented the Nigeria National Basketball Team during his playing career.
Spending nearly a decade as the assistant coach, Udoka became the new head coach of the Boston Celtics. The 43-year-old became the 18th coach, and sixth Black coach, in the franchise’s distinguished history. Ime Udoka, who later served under Steve Nash for the Brooklyn Nets, was an attacking player in the NBA for five teams starting 2003 to 2011 before embarking on a coaching career in 2012 with the San Antonio Spurs.
Ime, whose father, Vitalis Udoka, emigrated from Africa’s most populous nation Nigeria before Ime Udoka was born, is the first African to serve as head coach in the NBA. (Nash, who recently completed his first season in Brooklyn, was taken to Welsh and English parents in South Africa.) Udoka, who played for the Nigerian men’s national team during the 2006 FIBA World Championship, led the team in scoring, assists and steals, and was second in rebounds. He also played for Nigeria during the 2005 and 2011 FIBA Africa championships. Udoka and his sister, Mfon Udoka, all from Akwa Ibom state, who played for the Nigerian women’s national team and in the WNBA for three seasons, was the first brother-sister to play in the NBA and WNBA, with regards to a 2006 report published in the Los Angeles Times.
In a move in 2019 designed to get him ready for a subsequent coaching job. Udoka later joined the Philadelphia 76ers as head coach Brett Brown’s–another former Popovich assistant–lead assistant coach. Brown got fired after eliminating the Sixers from last season’s bubble playoffs; Udoka joined Nash’s Nets sometime in October. During his spell as a player and assistant coach, Udoka receives compliments by his fellow teammates and coaches for showing characteristics that make for a successful NBA coach: with hard work ethic, ability to teach, fortitude and patience, the latter of which is the Ibibio meaning of Udoka’s first name.
“I think that’s kind of work ethics the Celtics should expect, a guy that’s highly intelligent but also has resilience with a unique way of communicating and linking up with players. He’s just got a great unique way about him.”