Brooklyn Nets Hire Ime Udoka


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Alessandro De Stefano

The Brooklyn Nets just passed up on a golden opportunity to steal one of the best coaches in the NBA from the Celtics. Here’s why:

Last season, rookie head coach Ime Udoka took the reins of the Celtics from longtime coach Brad Stevens. By the midway point of the year, the Celtics had a drab 18-21 record, with Udoka earning himself a position in the hot seat. But suddenly, Udoka became a leader of men. He put together the Avengers of Defense. Udoka finished the season on a 33-10 run, nabbing the team a 51-31 record overall. Udoka and the Celtics marched through the NBA’s Eastern Conference, beating the Nets, Bucks, and Heat on their way to an eventual finals loss to the Warriors. Although the Celtics lost in the finals, Udoka cemented his place as the coach of the Boston Celtics with his philosophy that no player is bigger than the team.

Ime Udoka looked to lead the Celtics on another final run with the help of his young duo, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. But that all changed on September 21, 2022. Word got out from Adrian Wojnarowski that “Ime Udoka is facing possible disciplinary action, including a significant suspension, for an unspecified violation of organizational guidelines.” “Discussions are ongoing within the Celtics on a final determination.” Every Celtics fan’s heart dropped the second they read the headline. Theories flew around Twitter about what this “violation of organizational guidelines” could be: fans speculated that maybe he stole from the organization or even killed a player. The true details came out about the next day about the violation. Udoka had a consensual relationship with a female staffer in the Celtics organization. The Celtics then decided to take drastic measures, suspending him for the entire 2022–23 NBA season.

The Nets have also had their share of PR disasters over the past few months. Their star player, Kyrie Irving, refused to get the COVID vaccine, which restricted him from playing until the 60-game mark of the 2021-22 season. Then, early in the 2022–23 season, Irving made headlines by peddling an anti-semitic documentary on Twitter and then making anti-semitic comments, which earned him a suspension until he issued a formal apology to the Jewish community. Irving’s co-star Kevin Durant also gave the Nets heartache when he formally requested a trade in the offseason, although it never came to fruition. Somehow, along with those 2 scandals, their 3rd-best player, Ben Simmons, showed a lack of interest in basketball. He did this by sitting out the entire 2021–22 season, including the playoffs, where they got swept by the aforementioned Boston Celtics.

After a tumultuous 2-5 start to the NBA season, the Nets fired their head coach, Steve Nash. The same day of the firing, rumors started flying out of the woodwork that Ime Udoka was the frontrunner for the job. When reputable reporter Woj stated, “The Nets expect to hire suspended Celtics coach Ime Udoka…,” the hiring was all but confirmed: “A deal could be done as soon as Thursday.” News stalled and stalled again until the Nets hired Jacque Vaughn a week after the Udoka reports surfaced. Everyone was taken aback by the fact that a man with no coaching experience was now expected to lift the sinking Nets above water.

But the question still stands: why didn’t the Nets hire Ime Udoka? Well, it’s quite simple: they wanted to avoid another PR disaster as they already had so many on their hands. Along with antisemitism and unhappiness, the Nets did not want to add a sex scandal. Ime Udoka was the better choice on paper, but his infidelity has turned him from a leader of men to a leader of nobody.