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Ime Udoka credits Gregg Popovich, Tim Duncan for helping shape his coaching identity

Gregg Popovich, Tim Duncan, Ime Udoka

It was simple to move on for Ime Udoka. Just because he’s no longer coaching with the San Antonio Spurs, though, hardly means the Philadelphia 76ers’ new lead assistant coach will be leaving what he learned from franchise legends in the Alamo City.

Udoka, who played for the Spurs for two seasons in the late 2000s before returning as a coach in 2012, credited his unique dual experience alongside the likes of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili for helping him foster his style as a coach.

“But the part that made it easy was that they were very professional. I knew them as a player but also on my part was the way I conducted myself as a player it wasn’t hard to make that transition because I didn’t have to not be who I was,” he said, per The Athletic’s Jabari Young.

“I wasn’t being unprofessional and doing things that would make people look at you one way and then have to change. I am who I am, and that is part of the reason [Gregg Popovich] brought me in because he knew me as a player and he knew that would translate well to coaching.”

Udoka replaced Monty Williams, hired as the Phoenix Suns’ head coach in May, as Philadelphia’s first on the bench next to Brett Brown. According to The Athletic, his three-year deal will make him one of the highest-paid assistant coaches in the NBA.

Udoka isn’t the only high-profile Spurs assistant to leave the team recently. Earlier this week, Ettore Messina, an assistant in San Antonio since 2014, was hired as coach and president of basketball operations of Olimpia Milano of his native Italy.