Perhaps more than any other team in the NBA, the Boston Celtics have reshaped their organization. Of all the changes that have occurred over the last several months, though, the Beantowners’ coaching switcheroo was arguably the biggest.
While Brad Stevens is navigating shark-infested waters as a first-time team president, its up to his replacement on the sidelines, Ime Udoka, to actually put all the pieces together on the court.
Despite the enormity of it all — not to mention the fact that the Celtics post is Udoka’s first NBA head-coaching gig — the former player and longtime assistant was apparently all chill when he got hired. At the least, that’s what his partner, actress Nia Long, observed.
In an October 25 interview with PopCulture, Long spoke out on Udoka getting the call and how she feels about the job change.
Udoka’s Understated Reaction
While one might expect there to be champagne and fireworks the very moment a lifer like Udoka finally gets their big job, Long revealed that his reaction was pretty understated. She was actually the one who flipped out.
“I’ll never forget the moment,” Long told PopCulture. “We were sort of waiting for the call all week. I was anxious. He’s always calm, like totally calm. I’m cleaning, folding laundry, cooking, because I’m just so nervous. I had to keep myself busy. And I was on a call and I got off the call. I was actually on a call about ‘The Best Man’ and I got off the call. And I looked down the hallway and he just smiled and shook his head in the yes position. And I ran down the hall and jumped on him.”
Long joked that her big response nearly did Udoka in.
“I think I almost, probably, broke his back,” she said. “Extra 15 from COVID is not easy to catch.”
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Equal to the Task
Udoka’s road to the top spot on an NBA bench was undoubtedly a winding one. Nevertheless, Long believes that her beau is ready to face whatever comes his way with the Celtics.
“I think he’s going to kill it,” Long said. “He’s one of the most disciplined people I know. He’s worked really hard for this and now he’s got to just get to work with his players and do what he does best. So, it’s an exciting time for our family to be able to sit in the stands. And now it’s like, oh my gosh, he’s the head coach. And I met him when he was a player and I’ve seen him go through three different teams. And so, now it’s his turn. So it’s good.”
The real question may be whether or not Long will make it to the Garden to see Udoka do his thing in person. After all, Hollywood is always calling.
“Oh my gosh. I’ll try to be there as much as I can,” she said of attending games. “He’ll be in Boston. I’m in New York City because we’ll be shooting ‘Best Man’ here. The most important thing for me is that we keep our family as together as we possibly can.”