The prominence of Nigerians in the NBA continues to grow season on season with the announcement that Ime Udoka will coach Boston Celtics in the next NBA season.
From Hakeem the dream Olajuwon to Giannis Sina Ugo Antetokounmpo, Nigerian-born players continue to raise the bar.
The NBA has always featured Nigerian players but one area that seemed a no-go area was coaching but that jinx is all set to be broken with the impending emergence of Udoka as the new Head Coach for the Celtics.
Multiple reports including the New York Times and ESPN all indicate Udoka is on track to land his first head coaching job with the Boston Celtics.
A former key player with Nigeria’s D’Tigers, Udoka is stepping into his first position as the 18th head coach of Celtics after nine years as an assistant.
Though born and raised in the United States, Udoka’s late father was born in Nigeria, which qualified Udoka for Nigerian citizenship.
He played for the Nigerian men’s basketball team at the 2006 FIBA World Championships. Mfon who is Ime’s sister not only played for Nigeria’s women team, D’Tigress, but also led the team for a long while and was at a time a member of the coaching crew.
While an official announcement is being awaited from Boston Celtics, Udoka, who is Nigerian-American, will become the sixth Black coach in the history of the franchise.
The others were Doc Rivers (2004-13), M.L. Carr (1995-97), K.C. Jones (1983-88), Tom Sanders (1978) and Bill Russell (1966-69).
In the past, the NBA has been criticised for predominantly hiring white coaches, even though more than 70 per cent of the players on team rosters are black.
Once the deal is officially announced, Udoka will become one of nine non-white head coaches in the NBA.