On January 8, 2010, Warriors rookie Stephen Curry, headphones plugged into an iPod, arrives at Oracle Arena for a game against the Kings. In his playlist? Baby by Justin Bieber, TiK ToK by Kesha: in short, only classics. In the Kings team he faces that day, we find Tyreke Evans, Omri Casspi… and Ime Udoka. Yes, the Celtics coach had a playing career before swapping the jersey for the shirt and suit jacket. And that day, he is about to send one of his career-highs on the head of the Warriors.
At the time, Golden State did not have the same prestige as today: before the game, the Dubs posted an 11-24 record and occupied the last place in the Pacific division. But to reassure you, the penultimate is well occupied by the Kings who have 14 wins for 21 losses before this meeting. For the youngest who read us, we know that you are not used to seeing this, but twelve years ago, the Warriors-Kings were tight matches. That day, it’s a Sacramento team on a four-game losing streak that shows up on the Oracle Arena floor. The Warriors just beat the Timberwolves, the worst team in the Western Conference. The match therefore smells of powder… but not too much, it especially smells of lose. The game is very close as expected, the confrontation between the fourth pick of the 2009 Draft Tyreke Evans and the franchise player of the Warriors Monta Ellis sends the block, with 25 and 39 points respectively for the two backs. Stephen Curry – the seventh choice of the vintage ’09 – does not yet have the superb we know him today, he is also that day below his standards. He only finished the game with 12 points in 34 minutes of play. This is not the case for Ime Udoka, who had one of the best games of his career on the Oakland floor. The Kings winger is highly pleased in the middle of the Golden State racket, between Anthony Randolph and Ronny Turiaf. At the end of the fair, he compiled 14 rebounds, thanks for the new career high. Add to all that 19 points, including 12 scored from the Oracle Arena bar, and you get a nice double-double stamped Ime Udoka. Twelve years later, he is back on the floor of Golden State as coach of Boston, but will probably not be so out of place.
A full circle moment 😳
Ime Udoka goes from playing against Curry to coaching against him in the NBA Finals. pic.twitter.com/pbjeX9IPoM
—ESPN (@espn) May 30, 2022
It’s been ten years since Ime Udoka swapped shorts for suit pants. After a final season in Spain alongside Murcia and an NBA career in role player mode (5 points and 3 rebounds on average) from 2004 to 2011 (he even went through Vichy in the meantime), he was recalled by his former coach at San Antonio Gregg Popovich to become his assistant. Seven seasons of apprenticeship with the most successful coach in the history of the League, it molds you into a tactician. Ime decides in 2019 that it is time to take flight. Two years as an assistant with the Sixers then with the Nets… then a phone call from Brad Stevens, direction Boston. The former Sacramento takes Beantown to the NBA Finals against Steve Kerr’s Warriors, another follower of Popovich. During his NBA career, Ime Udoka will have faced Stephen Curry’s Warriors six times, for a final record of 4-2 in favor of the C’s coach. In 2022, the two men meet again face-to-face, this time in the NBA Finals. In the meantime, one has become a coach and the other has evolved into the best 3-point shooter of all time. But will Ime be able to reuse what he has retained from scouting reports of the time to try to counter Curry? Not so sure, the leader of the Warriors is no longer the little rookie of 2010. The arrival of Kerr on the bench of Golden State allowed the former Davidson to pass a real milestone and become double MVP and triple champion NBA… just that.
The paths of Stephen Curry and Ime Udoka cross again, but there is only one road to the title. The Warriors point guard already knows her, but the Celtics coach has never borrowed her as a head coach. But who from Golden State or Boston will be crowned NBA champion? Beginning of response in the night from Thursday to Friday, 3am.