Ime Udoka opens up on being ‘really hurt’ after finishing 2nd for coaching jobs with Cavs, Pacers and Pistons

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Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Celtics just advanced to the 2022 NBA Finals, and a big part of the reason why is Celtics head coach Ime Udoka.

Udoka had been in the NBA’s coaching circle for years before finally landing the Celtics’ head-coaching job. In fact, he was very close to becoming the Cleveland Cavaliers’ head coach a few years ago.

He admitted as much when speaking with Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports.

“The one thing I would say is the disappointment of coming in second a few years really hurt,” Udoka said. “But if you told me I’d have to wait for Boston and get [bypassed] by some of the ones that I got beat out on, it’s a no-brainer for me. I’m happy to be in Boston.”

He went on to list the Cavs amongst multiple teams that he came up short with in the pursuit of a head-coaching job.

“You really want me to tell you?” Udoka said. “Detroit, Indiana, Cleveland. I can go down the list. That was tough because I believe I was ready. But I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of an organization that’s pushing for winning and championships. You can be in a lot of different situations. There are only 30 teams and I get that, but to not be in a rebuild and being in an expectation pressure-filled situation, I wouldn’t trade that in any day.”

It’s pretty amazing to learn that a young coach who will now be coaching in the NBA Finals missed out on so many job openings. However, he’s clearly happy with where he ended up.

As for the Cavs, they likely have few regrets as well. Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has been instrumental in the team’s recovery in the post-LeBron James era. As the Cavs’ young core continues to grow and improve and the team’s front office continues to find new ways to bring talent to Cleveland, Bickerstaff’s success with the team will surely grow.

Whether or not he can one day lead the Cavs to an NBA Finals appearance remains to be seen.

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Jonathan is a freelance writer, filmmaker, and passionate fan of the NBA. In the past Jonathan has covered politics, entertainment, travel, and more. He is a proud contributor of Cavaliers Nation.