Jayson Tatum Hits Coach Ime Udoka With Truth Bomb: ‘I Think He Knows That’

Ime Udoka Jayson Tatum

Getty Ime Udoka (left) has led Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics to within three wins of an NBA title.

Ime Udoka is having a fantastic rookie season as head coach of the Boston Celtics. He guided his team to the NBA Finals, presided over a league-leading defense and watched several players excel under his tutelage.

It seems his seven years as an NBA player have gone a long way toward his young team buying into his methods. During Udoka’s playing days, when he was mostly an end-of-bench role player, he was never the topic of conversation like he is now.

Celtics star Jayson Tatum said as much at a June 4 press conference.

“He’s a much better coach than he was a basketball player, and I think he knows that,” Tatum said.

Regardless of how his playing career turned out, Udoka is currently riding the crest of a wave.

Udoka Pleased to Finally Get a Shot

Udoka, 44, has long been considered one of the better young coaches in the NBA but struggled to take the step from being an assistant to being a head coach. After spells with the San Antonio Spurs, Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers, Udoka finally got his shot when Celtics general manager Brad Stevens came calling last summer.

However, Boston wasn’t the first coaching job Udoka interviewed for, and now he’s motivating himself by proving the other teams who passed up on him wrong.

In a May 30 story by Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, Udoka name-checked some of the teams that passed on him.

“You really want me to tell you? Detroit, Indiana, Cleveland. I can go down the list,” Udoka said. “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 Pacers and Pistons finished 13th and 14th, respectively, in the Eastern Conference, and the Cavaliers lost in the play-in tournament. Meanwhile, Udoka’s Celtics are preparing for Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

Celtics Close to a Championship

A year ago at this time, the Celtics appeared to be far away from championship contention. Now, with essentially the same core, Udoka has navigated his team through a gauntlet of fire, defeating the Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat and snatching Game 1 of the NBA Finals from the Golden State Warriors.

Right now, the Celtics are three wins away from being crowned NBA champions, and while the NBA Finals is still anybody’s series, the growth of the Celtics under Udoka’s stewardship is evident in their nightly performances.

Udoka has instilled toughness in this team. They’re no longer easy to bully or susceptible to shrinking under the brightest lights. Now, they’re a roster containing the Defensive Player of the Year, multiple All-NBA defensive players and an All-NBA First Team wing who’s developing into a superstar.

The Celtics may or may not win a championship this season, but one thing’s for sure: Tatum is right; Udoka is a far better coach than he was a player.

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