Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka has been around the NBA since 2000 as an undrafted player who spent most of his career playing overseas for a handful of teams.
In 2012, Udoka hung ‘em up for good, immediately getting into coaching after retiring. He was hired by the San Antonio Spurs as an assistant coach to Gregg Popovich where he spent eight years under Pop.
Udoka, a native of Portland, Oregon, has always known Miami Heat head coach Erik Spolestra from Spolestra’s playing days at the University of Portland.
The first-year head coach mentioned that he’s been familiar with Spolestra due to running with similar crowds back in the day. Udoka was teammates with the cousin of Damon Stoudamire (also a Portland native and currently an assistant coach on Udoka’s staff), who was teammates with Spolestra in college.
“I watched (Spoelstra) growing up at the University of Portland, him and Damon Stoudamire playing Pro-Am games in the summer. So I watched him since I was a kid. He was high school teammates with Damon’s cousin, so I know all about Erik.”
Udoka and Spolestra coached together as assistants for Popovich on the 2020 U.S. National Team. The respect they have for one another is mutual and great to see between opposing head coaches.
“Really, we were the two best teams in the East most of the season and it’s fitting that we’re moving into the conference finals.”
The coaching battle in this series is going to be one for the books. Two defensive minded teams that are trying to take what the other wants. This is lined up to be one of the greatest Eastern Conference Finals in the last 10 years.
Game 1 begins tonight at 8:30PM
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