Former Spur Udoka recalls journey to becoming assistant coach

Ime UdokaFormer San Antonio Spurs player Ime Udoka will be back in the silver and black this coming season, though he won’t be dawning the typical Spurs jersey fans are accustomed to seeing him wear. Instead he’ll most likely be wearing a Spurs polo or some sort of business suit.

In an entertaining piece by Ken Rodriguez for Spurs.com, Rodriguez explains how Udoka made the decision to take the vacant assistant coaching position with the Spurs while he was in of all places, Las Vegas.

Rodriguez wrote about Udoka’s situation of contemplating retirement or to continue playing overseas, but it was being approached by  Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich that made Udoka consider the career change.

“I was excited,” Udoka says. “It was something he had mentioned to me years ago. But that possibility to me was way down the line. With Coach Newman going to Washington and Jacque to Orlando, something opened sooner than expected and here we are.”

Rodriguez goes on to make a connection between Udoka’s basketball career and the many setbacks he’s had to overcome to get to the level he is at today, but he also mentioned how in the last few years Udoka has already begun working toward the coaching path as he’s worked with some of the top future college players in the country.

Toward the end of his piece, Udoka told Rodriguez that Coach Pop asked him if he was sure retiring was the decision he was ready to make, and Udoka commented on the moment.

“It’s a very unusual feeling,” he says. “For the last 25 years, I’ve been preparing to play. So it’s definitely different.”

Before Udoka committed to coaching, Pop asked, “Are you sure you want to quit playing?”

As Udoka prepares to develop the Spurs along with Coach Pop and the other coaches on Monday, he’ll be among some familiar faces like Spurs forward Tim Duncan, and guards Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, but it’ll be the younger players like Patty Mills, Nando De Colo, Cory Joseph, Kawhi Leonard, and Danny Green who can really take in a lot of the lessons Udoka will be brining to their growth as players and individuals.  

Paul Garcia

About Paul Garcia

Paul is a San Antonio Spurs credentialed media member for Project Spurs. He covered the 2013 NBA All-Star Game in Houston, TX and the 2013 NBA Finals.

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