Skip to main content

“The team honestly is stronger than any one coach” — Kevin McHale explains why Ime Udoka's scandal did not crumble the Boston Celtics

Celtics legend Kevin McHale admitted that he thought Udoka's suspension would significantly affect the Boston Celtics.
Boston Celtics legend Kevin Mchale, Marcus Smart, Blake Griffin, Grant Williams, Malcom Brogdon

Kevin McHale, Boston Celtics

When former Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka was slapped with a significant suspension for having an improper relationship with a female member of the team staff over the summer, it was easy to assume that this could significantly be detrimental to the Celtics.

The same team who was literally just 2 games short of winning their 18th championship last season had to deal with an unprecedented off-court issue, no thanks to their coach who led them to the Finals in the first place. The biggest question for the Celtics heading into this season was whether they were strong enough to overcome such controversy — and so far, they've exceeded expectations and are withstanding it with flying colors.

No issue has overwhelmed Boston

Like many, Celtics legend Kevin McHale also admitted that he thought Udoka's suspension would significantly affect Boston. After all, how do players respond and not be bothered after finding out they will no longer be coached by the leader who helped them get to the Finals in the first place? 

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

McHale credits the Celtics' overall mental fortitude and believes that it depicts how mentally and physically strong this current team is — which is a sign of a true championship contender.

"I was like you, I was like 'Oh my goodness what a way to start the season. You get to the Finals, next thing you know the season's starting, the coach is out and you're like 'What the hell.' But this team is stronger than any one person. The team honestly is stronger than any one coach," McHale said in his last appearance on Sirus XM NBA Radio.

"But you don't win championships unless it's your team. Not my team. When it's your team and you take everything personally. You take practices personally, you take losses personally, and you take everything personally that happens because this is your team. And this is the Celtics team. Joe just happens to be there doing a tremendous job,"the Hall of Famer said.

The Celtics are cruising

It's only fitting that McHale gave Joe Mazzulla (who took over Udoka's head coaching seat) credit because he's done a stellar job so far. The Celtics are currently the best team in the league (17-4), and they're doing it with their offense (120.9 offensive rating), which ranks number 1 in the league. They lead the league in 3-pointers made a game (16.7). It also helps that Jayson Tatum is having an MVP campaign season averaging a career-high 30.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game.

Boston is by far the deepest team in the league because aside from Tatum, they also have Jaylen Brown, Malcolm Brogdon, Marcus Smart, Al Horford, Grant Williams, and the rest of the squad contributing on both ends of the floor. They could also be even better when they get Robert Williams back in the mix, who is currently recovering from a knee injury.

The fact that the Celtics are cruising despite the adversity they had to deal with in the summer shows that they're not going to let any controversy stop them, and they're still all in on exacting revenge. As McHale said, this current team has shown signs of what a true championship squad is all about. 

February 23, 2009; Golden State Warriors forward Stephen Jackson during the game against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center

Stephen Jackson shares his two most memorable moments playing for the “We Believe” Warriors

The Warriors experienced some brief success in the 2000s, thanks partly to Jackson's strong play.

January 1, 2019; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid talks to Markelle Fultz on the bench before a game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center

“I felt like we had given up on him too early” - Joel Embiid explains why he was disappointed when the 76ers traded Markelle Fultz

The Sixers had to do the trade to get rid of the drama surrounding the 2017 No. 1 pick and focus on a title run.

Boston Celtics guard Dennis Johnson in action at the Boston Garden

“His act of kindness enabled me to keep that job” - A motivational speaker shares a heartwarming Dennis Johnson story

After working odd jobs as a teenager, carrying two heavy jugs was probably no big deal for Johnson.

NFL legend Shannon Sharpe, Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, former NBA player Stephen Jackson

“LeBron ain’t gonna run up and fight nobody for you. Keep that in mind” - Stephen Jackson warns Shannon Sharpe about his relationship with LeBron James

James said that he’s got Sharpe’s back just as much as the analyst has his but Jackson doesn't believe this is the case.


"Mess with Stockton and you mess with me" - Karl Malone on what John Stockton meant to him

The connection between Karl Malone and John Stockton goes beyond basketball


"Let's see what this guy did in his career" — Why Giannis Antetokounmpo wasn't initially impressed with Jason Kidd

The NBA was heading toward the positionless ball during Jason Kidd's time in Milwaukee. The point guard knew that Giannis Antetokounmpo was the ace up in his sleeves.

January 31, 2023; Jamal Murray interviewed by TNT broadcaster Chris Haynes after the Denver Nuggets beat the New Orleans Pelicans at Ball Arena

"Winning a championship!" - Jamal Murray talks about Denver Nuggets' ultimate goal while praising Nikola Jokic

Jamal Murray has had long process of recovery after his ACL injury, but he is back on track, and ready to help the team win a championship.

Detroit Pistons guard Joe Dumars (4)/Phoenix Suns forward Charles Barkley (34)

“Give me that sh*t, Joe!” - When Charles Barkley stopped Joe Dumars from dunking in traffic again

While hardly a defensive menace, Chuck did enough to dissuade Dumars from trying to posterize opponents again.