While the Portland Trail Blazers are on the sidelines for this year’s NBA Finals, there’s a familiar face set to take center stage.
Portland-born coach and former Blazer Ime Udoka is four wins away from a championship. The ring would be Udoka’s second after winning a title as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs back in 2014.
Udoka has a strong connection to the city. He was born in Portland months after the Blazers won the 1977 NBA championship and attended Jefferson High School in the area. His collegiate career took him to Utah State Eastern and the University of San Francisco, but he eventually returned to Portland, playing for Portland State in the 1999-2000 season.
After clawing his way through the D-League (now the G League), overseas and the end of the depth chart with the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks, Udoka found a home with the Blazers during the 2006-07 season. He started 75 games for the team, averaging 8.4 points per game.
After his year in Portland, he became a role player for the San Antonio Spurs and Sacramento Kings before transitioning into coaching. He spent seven seasons with the Spurs coaching staff before one year each in Philadelphia and Brooklyn before taking the job in Boston.
Now, the Portlandian is four wins away from coaching his team to a championship.