Ime Udoka is a Nigerian-American former basketball player and current professional basketball coach, serves as the head coach for the Houston Rockets in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Despite being born in the United States, he played for the Nigeria national team during his career as a player.
Profession- Nigerian-American coach and basketball player
Teams coached-Houston Rockets (Head coach, since 2023), MORE
Ime Udoka’s parents are Vitalis Udoka and Agnes Udoka. His father, of Nigerian descent, enabled Ime Udoka to qualify for Nigerian citizenship. His older sister, Mfon, participated in the WNBA. Ime Udoka’s mother, who passed away in late 2011, was an American hailing from Illinois.
In November 2011, Ime Udoka’s first child named Kez Sunday Long Udoka was born to his then-girlfriend, Nia Long. The couple got engaged in May 2015; however, they separated in 2022 after revelations surfaced about Udoka’s involvement with a staff member of the Celtics. Long and Udoka decided to conclude their relationship after nearly 13 years of dating.
He attended Portland’s Jefferson High School. Udoka began his collegiate basketball journey at Utah State University Eastern and the University of San Francisco before transferring to Portland State University, where he played a prominent role for the Vikings. Starting his professional career in the NBDL with the Charleston Lowgators, he was drafted 39th overall in the 2002 NBDL Draft.
Udoka had a brief stint with the Los Angeles Lakers after being called up on January 14, 2004, but was later waived. After playing in Europe, he returned to the United States and was again drafted in the NBDL, this time as the third overall pick by the Fort Worth Flyers in the 2005 NBDL Draft. He showcased his skills with the Flyers, averaging 17.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.
On April 6, 2006, Udoka signed with the New York Knicks but was waived on September 11, 2006. He earned a spot with the Portland Trail Blazers for the 2006–07 season, impressing the coaching staff with his defensive prowess despite the unfortunate passing of his father during the preseason.
In that season, Udoka started in 75 games, playing 28.6 minutes per game and averaging 8.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 0.9 steals.
In 2007, Udoka signed with the San Antonio Spurs, playing in 73 games and averaging 5.8 points and 3.1 rebounds in 18 minutes. During his second season with the Spurs, he played in 67 games, starting in three and averaging 4.3 points and 2.8 rebounds in 15.4 minutes.
After the 2009 season, Udoka became a free agent and re-signed with the Trail Blazers. However, he was waived on October 22, 2009, later signing with the Sacramento Kings on November 4, 2009. Playing 69 games with the Kings, he averaged 3.6 points and 2.8 rebounds in 13.7 minutes.
Udoka rejoined the Spurs on November 24, 2010, but was waived on January 5, 2011, after playing only 20 games. On December 15, 2011, he signed with the New Jersey Nets but was waived on December 23, 2011. In January 2012, Udoka continued his career by signing with UCAM Murcia of the Spanish Liga ACB.
In August 2012, Udoka commenced his coaching career by joining the San Antonio Spurs as an assistant coach under Gregg Popovich. His coaching tenure proved successful as the Spurs secured the NBA Championship in the 2014 Finals, defeating the Miami Heat 4–1.
Udoka played a pivotal role in influencing LaMarcus Aldridge’s decision to join the Spurs in 2015, both having previously played together with the Trail Blazers during Aldridge’s rookie season. Subsequently, on June 26, 2019, Udoka took on the role of assistant coach with the Philadelphia 76ers, working under his former Spurs colleague, Brett Brown.
Transitioning to the Brooklyn Nets, Udoka was hired as an assistant coach on October 30, 2020. On June 28, 2021, he ascended to the position of head coach for the Boston Celtics, marking the fifth head coach of African origin in the franchise’s history. Despite a challenging start to the season with an 18–21 record, Udoka steered the Celtics to a remarkable turnaround, finishing with a 51–31 record as the second seed in the Eastern Conference. The team clinched the Eastern Conference title and reached the NBA Finals, but ultimately fell short in a six-game series against the Golden State Warriors.
However, on September 22, 2022, Udoka faced suspension for the entire 2022–23 season due to violations of team policies, specifically related to an improper intimate relationship with a female Celtics staff member. Although initially considered consensual by the organization, the woman later accused Udoka of making unwanted comments. Despite issuing an apology, Udoka chose not to resign, and there were uncertainties about his future with the organization beyond the 2022–23 season. Assistant coach Joe Mazzulla assumed the role of interim head coach. Udoka’s association with the Celtics concluded on February 16, 2023, when Mazzulla, leading the team to a league-best 42–17 record at the NBA All-Star break, was named the permanent head coach.
Udoka, a former player for the Nigerian national team, showcased his skills at the 2006 FIBA World Championships, leading Nigeria in scoring, assists, and steals. He also contributed to Nigeria’s success in the 2005 and 2011 FIBA Africa Championships, securing bronze medals in both tournaments.
In his coaching career, Udoka served as an assistant coach for USA Basketball under Gregg Popovich. His coaching stint at the 2019 FIBA World Cup allowed him to establish connections with Celtics players Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart, who supported his appointment as the new head coach for the Celtics. Additionally, Udoka coached alongside Popovich for Team USA at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, where Celtics assistant Will Hardy also joined the coaching staff.
On April 25, 2023, Udoka took on a new role as the head coach for the Houston Rockets.
Net Worth 2023
Basketball coach Ime Udoka boasts a net worth of $13 million.
Latest News about Ime Udoka
Udoka ejected after confrontation with LeBron
A peculiarly officiated disagreement between LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets head coach Ime Udoka resulted in a technical foul for James and Udoka’s ejection on Saturday night (US time).
The incident occurred in the fourth quarter with the Lakers leading 93-77 and 8:35 remaining. According to the New York Post, Lakers player Cam Reddish fouled Rockets forward Tari Eason, and moments after the play ended, he walked into Eason. After some brief exchange of words, they were separated.
Following this, Udoka engaged in conversation with James, and as the basketball star tried to approach the Houston head coach, Dillon Brooks, a controversial Rockets wing, intervened.Udoka and James ultimately engaged in a confrontation, resulting in a technical foul for James and the ejection of the Rockets’ head coach.
Following the incident, Udoka commented, “We had some conversation, and [they] didn’t like what they heard.”
Udoka also expressed his dissatisfaction with the Rockets’ physical play, acknowledging the team’s defensive improvement this season, especially at home, where they remain the only NBA team without a road victory.
When asked about the details of the conversation, James responded by mentioning that their exchange revolved around “Thanksgiving… how much we enjoyed Thanksgiving.”