“I am beyond proud of this man. Expect great things because that’s what he does.”
That’s what Nia Long wrote last year after her fiancé Ime Udoka was announced as head coach of the Boston Celtics. It was a long time coming for the former NBA player, who took assistant coaching gigs with the San Antonio Spurs, Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets from 2012 to 2021 before being tapped as head coach in Beantown. Less than a year later, her beau is doing great things just as she said he would, taking the Celtics to the NBA Finals in his first year leading the storied team. With that being said, no one is happier than Long.
After the team took home the Eastern Conference Championship trophy, she shared a video of herself cheering, doing a high-kick in excitement. The clip quickly made the rounds online.
On Monday, she followed up that clip with a post that highlighted Udoka taking the Celtics to the Finals in his first year. She captioned it, “Speechless….patience and purpose.”
But Long repping for her man is nothing new. Long (no pun intended) before he became head coach, she’s been court side with her sons, Massai and Kez, rooting for him from city to city. And once he finally got the chance to show what he could do in a leadership role, she was there, in person and online, cheering him on as his biggest fan.
“I’m definitely his biggest cheerleader,” she told ESSENCE (me, specifically) in October. “I’m so happy for him. I’m proud of him. The boys are super happy and excited. I’ve watched the sacrifices he’s made personally and the sacrifices we’ve made as a family, and now it’s go time, and I just know he’s going to be great because he’s so disciplined. I’ve never seen anyone so disciplined. Honestly, I’ve never met anyone so disciplined. He sets a target and that’s what it is, and so that is where big success lies, and now he just has to do what he wants to do. And the greatest thing is when he’s busy I’m busy. When we come together it’s like we’re in a constant state of dating. And that keeps it fun.”
Check out nine times she was his biggest cheerleader during the regular season and throughout these nail-biting playoffs. Oh, and Game 1 of the Finals tips off on Thursday!