The Boston Celtics hired Ime Udoka over the summer as their next head coach and it appears one of their All-Star wingman may have played a role in that hire.
Celtics star Jaylen Brown said in an interview this week with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated that he told Celtics ownership and management that it was important to hire a black head coach after former coach Brad Stevens left his post to become the team’s head of basketball operations.
“They were on board with it,” he said. “They talked about it. It wasn’t like it was just about being African-American. Udoka is more than qualified.”
Udoka looks like a worthy hire. A former NBA player, he worked his way up Gregg Popovich’s staff in seven seasons as a Spurs assistant. Udoka then spread his wings in one season each with the 76ers and Nets. He focused last season on Brooklyn’s defense, which exceeded expectations in the playoffs considering their size issues.
Spears notes that the NBA had seven African-American head coaches among its 30 teams last season despite the league being majority black. Now there will be 13 African-American head coaches heading into the 2021-22 season.