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#pounditFriday, March 24, 2023

Ime Udoka names 3 teams that missed chance to hire him as coach

Ime Udoka coaching the Celtics

Mar 23, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka watches from the sideline as they take on the Utah Jazz in the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Ime Udoka is winning widespread praise after leading the Boston Celtics to the NBA Finals in his first season on the job. Boston’s gain, as he made clear, is several other teams’ loss.

Udoka had long been a head coach candidate before the Celtics hired him, but missed on several opportunities. After Sunday’s Game 7 win, Udoka named those teams, admitting it had hurt to be passed over by them but pleased the situation worked out for him.

“You really want me to tell you? Detroit, Indiana, Cleveland,” Udoka told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. “I can go down the list. That was tough because I believe I was ready. But I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of an organization that’s pushing for winning and championships. You can be in a lot of different situations. There are only 30 teams and I get that, but to not be in a rebuild and being in an expectation pressure-filled situation, I wouldn’t trade that in any day.”

The Pistons hired Dwane Casey in 2018 ahead of Udoka, while the Pacers and Cavaliers have made multiple coaching changes in recent years. Of the three teams, only the Cavaliers made the playoffs in 2022, losing in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament.

Udoka seems to be a perfect fit for the Celtics. It took longer than he hoped to become a head coach, but he wound up landing a job with a contending team that he would not have walked into elsewhere.


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