New Rockets coach Ime Udoka told reporters that dealing with “suffering” will help him “be a better coach and leader” as he was officially introduced by Houston on Wednesday.
- The former Celtics coach, who has been suspended by the team for the 2022-23 season, said he stood by his statement in September about the situation and now has “great regret”. This discipline resulted from Udoka’s close relationship with a female member of the Boston organization. Athletic reported.
- Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta said the NBA was “very comfortable” with Houston hiring Udoka as its coach. “We’re a forgiving world. Anyone who doesn’t forgive, then shame on them,” Fertitta added.
- As for court priorities, Udoka said everyone is aligned on “what (they’re) trying to accomplish.”
The AthleticInstant Analysis:
How did Udoka address the suspension?
It was the moment the Celtics and everyone around the NBA had been waiting for. When they held their press conference when the scandal broke, Boston’s leadership avoided saying anything substantive about the situation, and Udoka and the Rockets had a chance to do the same.
But Udoka hits many of the necessary marks to establish her authenticity as a transparent and responsible leader. He described the many things he did behind the scenes during his suspension to fix things in his life. He repeated that it was up to him to own up to his actions, saying that it was Boston’s right to break up with him and that he couldn’t sit there today and be held accountable.
The main flaw was in his introductory comments, referring to a written statement he released in late September in which he apologized for letting players, fans, the organization and his family down. Udoka elaborated that he had apologized to many people in his life and that he was now very sorry, but he did not repeat the specific and underlying words in his written statement in his first opportunity to address the public. The women in the Celtic organization who were unfairly caught up in the scandal deserve a live apology on camera, but they got a written statement.
In the end, Udoka paints a picture of someone who has regretted and worked to make things better for colleagues, friends and family. The Rockets were ready to back it up. There are understandable legal and privacy reasons why Udoka hasn’t told everyone her side of the story. But while he protects himself and others directly involved, it comes at some cost to others affected by his actions. — Weiss
How did Udoka come about?
All parties declined to get into the exact details that led to Udoka’s suspension by the Celtics, but Udoka took full responsibility and ownership for his actions. She participated in sensitivity and leadership training and counseled herself and her son to improve their relationship. Looking ahead, Udoka was optimistic and candid about Houston’s young roster and what to expect.
Udoka said young people don’t stay for a reason, and even though there’s a learning curve along the way, he’s stepping into a locker room and trying to change the culture. The Rockets have fallen victim to bad habits and a losing mentality over the past three years, and it will take some time to correct and reverse some of those mistakes. — It’s there
What impact can he have on the roster?
The Rockets have about $60 million in cap space and plan to add quality free agents to bolster this roster. Udoka sounded excited about shooting, playmaking and the prospect of adding big men to the lineup. He praised players like Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. who sat in the front row and elaborated on what drew him to this team. Based on his work with Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, I expect him to work with Houston’s young backline and hit the ground running.
Udoka has built his success on defense, which is Houston’s biggest problem. If the Rockets can’t change the makeup of this team in free agency, it may take a long time to fix it. But since he talked about culture, accountability and toughness, the young players need to know what they’re going to do from this point forward. — It’s there
What else did they say?
Udoka, 45, discussed Houston’s rebuilding: “Youth is not an excuse. We’re going to embrace youth, but that’s not an excuse,” he said, adding that shooting is at a premium and they’ll want to convey that in free agency.
Addressing his exit in Boston, Udoka said: “My role in that is to take ownership and accountability for my part. (The Celtics) had a choice to make a decision, and they went that route. My job is to own it, take responsibility, and execute the suspension. I had to own it honestly.
“I was honest and open about what I did last year. How your actions have consequences. I can be a prime example of that,” Udoka added. “But at the same time, how you can overcome that adversity and come out on the other side.”
General manager Raphael Stone said that as part of the hiring process, the team “did due diligence on every candidate, not just Udoka. … We felt comfortable during the process that this was the right hire.”
Udoka said that “there are a lot of things that are very attractive about this job” and that “gap space is a big thing.” He also said part of his process to find assistants will be interviewing current employees in Houston.
(Photo: Kyle Terada / USA Today)