Celtics’ Streak of Wins: Mazzulla is the Real Deal

Drew Gray '23, Co-Editor

Amid the drama that surrounded former Celtics head coach Ime Udoka, many fans including myself, questioned whether or not the next head coach of the Celtics would hold the same control of the locker room that Udoka held. However, that question has been answered in resounding fashion. 

Joe Mazzulla, who was already familiar with the Celtics organization, was promoted from assistant coach to head coach following Udoka’s suspension for the 2022-2023 season. 

Before Mazzulla became the head coach for Boston, he had a very interesting journey. After a decorated high school career at Bishop Hendricken in Rhode Island, he earned a scholarship to play basketball at the University of West Virginia. Mazzulla played two years for Hall of Fame head coach Bob Huggins before his career came to an abrupt halt. 

During his sophomore season, he collided shoulders with another player on Mississippi. A few months later, doctors told him he might not be able to play basketball again.

So, instead, Mazzulla began to focus on the coaching aspect of the game. He began to have more of a student assistant role on the West Virginia team. He started to see the game differently. It was at this point that he realized that he wanted to focus his career on coaching.

Once he graduated from West Virginia, he became a volunteer assistant coach at Glenville State University in central West Virginia. This role led him to a full time assistant coaching position at Fairmont State University in northern West Virginia. 

Eventually, he finally got his break: a coaching job in the pros. Ronald Nored, a former assistant of Brad Stevens, reached out to him about joining the Brooklyn Nets G League team coaching staff. After this stint with this team and with the Maine Red Claws (Celtics G League Affiliate), he was offered the head coaching job at Fairmont State, which he accepted.

With two successful seasons at Fairmont State, Mazzulla began to gain interest from former Celtics President of Basketball Operations, Danny Ainge, and the aforementioned head coach of Boston at the time, Brad Stevens. Ainge offered him a job after his first season at Fairmont, but Mazzulla didn’t feel the time was right. But, when Stevens called the following season, Mazzulla couldn’t turn it down.

As an assistant coach for Boston for 3 seasons, Mazzulla studied and learned how to be a coach in the NBA. So when it came time for head coach interviews following Udoka’s suspension, Stevens felt Mazzulla was ready to step in.

Stevens couldn’t have been more right thus far. Mazzulla has led the Celtics to a 13-4 start, which is the second best start in franchise history for a rookie head coach behind the late legend Bill Russell. 

This success is likely due to Mazzulla’s offensive focus. The Celtics lead the NBA this season in points per game with 120.4, as his players are firing on all cylinders. It is clear that the shift from a defensive-minded mentality with Udoka at the helm, in comparison to Mazzulla’s modern interpretation of the NBA offense has only benefited the likes of stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.  If the C’s can sustain this level of offensive production, I like their chances against any team in a playoff series, especially after a NBA Finals appearance last year. 

Overall, the doubts about Mazzulla’s ability to be a successful head coach of the Boston Celtics have been silenced. After his unique and strenuous journey to this role, he has earned both the respect of the team and the Boston fanbase.