After a controversial suspension from the Boston Celtics, Ime Udoka is joining the Houston Rockets franchise as their new head coach.
Despite an initially great season with the Boston Celtics, his time with the franchise was short-lived after violating the code of conduct. During his first season with the Celtics, he led the team to NBA Finals, making him one of five rookie head coaches to reach the finals in the last 25 years.
Although these records are surely impressive, Udoka allegedly had a consensual and intimate relationship with a female staffer. After this incident, he was suspended through the 2022-2023 season. In September, he addressed the situation and issued an apology for letting Boston fans down.
“I want to apologize to our players, fans, the entire Celtics organization, and my family for letting them down,” he said at the time. “I am sorry for putting the team in this difficult situation, and I accept the team’s decision.”
In the midst of the suspension, assistant coach Joe Mazzulla was made the interim head coach for the Celtics. By February, the team offered Mazzulla the full-time coaching position and removed Udoka from their roster.
“He’s always prepared, he’s really driven, he does all of the work necessary, but he also has a pulse on when the work needs to be put aside for the people,” Celtics President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens said of Mazzulla at the time of the promotion.
Houston Rockets GM appreciates Ime Udoka’s drive and toughness
However, three months after the dismissal of Ime Udoka, the Houston Rockets expressed interest in the young coach. After a further investigation into the misconduct incident by league office officials, the NBA franchise did not hold back from making Udoka an offer.
This week, the Rockets announced that Udoka will be joining their staff as the 15th head coach in their franchise’s history.
“Ime’s intelligence, drive, and toughness were the traits we were looking for in a coach to lead our team through this next stage of our development as we strive to become a champion,” Rockets general manager Rafael Stone said in a statement following the announcement.
Stone added, “We were honored to have the opportunity to speak to multiple outstanding candidates throughout the interview process and felt that Ime’s vision best aligned with the goals the Fertitta Family and myself have for the future of the Rockets.”
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