Although head coach Ime Udoka is no longer with the Boston Celtics, it's clear he made a profound impact on the best players in the team. Beantown star Jayson Tatum gave Udoka his props on the Point Forward podcast, saying he was integral to Boston's run to the 2022 NBA Finals. While Udoka was suspended and eventually removed from the organization following a nebulous scandal, Tatum shared some advice from his old coach that stuck with him.
“We're not running from nobody, whatever it takes, whoever we got to play,” Tatum remembered Udoka saying.
This tough mentality wasn't just a mantra though, as it was actually inspired by game film featuring Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.
“We would watch film, and [Udoka] would pause it and it'd be a time when I was guarding Bron and I let him get past me, and he would be like ‘yo, y'all not friends, y'all not homies, you're trying to get to where he's at.' It was that mentality every day,” Jayson Tatum recalled.
Udoka wasn't all talk either, and he proved it on Saturday night when his new team, the Houston Rockets, took on James' Lakers. During LA's win, Udoka and James got into a spat that took the NBA world by storm. Udoka was ejected after reportedly calling the Lakers “b**ches” for “crying” to the officials. Evidently, he meant it when he said there were no friends in the heat of a game.
This angle of the LeBron James-Ime Udoka exchange 👀
(via unitedlife4ever / TT)pic.twitter.com/yygVXprFdD
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) December 3, 2023
Instead of Ime Udoka, the Green Team is now led by 35-year-old coach Joe Mazzulla. Like his former boss, Mazzulla isn't here to make friends on the court, as he's already had a few disagreements this season with multiple opposing coaches. What he's really in Boston for is to finish what Udoka started and get the Celtics their first championship in over a decade.