The Celtics believe in Joe Mazzulla and his home battery arrest has since shaped him for the better

In 2009, while playing in West Virginia, Celtics interim head coach Joe Mazzulla was arrested on domestic assault charges for allegedly grabbing a woman by the neck at a bar. The previous year he had been charged with underage drinking and fighting with police at a Pittsburgh Pirates game.

After his second arrest, Mazzulla continued his treatment. He would be sober for 12 years. He has not been charged with any other incident since.

During the Celtics’ press conference to address the organization’s decision to suspend Ime Udoka for the 2022-23 season for what is characterized as an inappropriate intimate and consensual relationship with a female staff member, Brad Stevens said that he had carefully considered Mazzulla’s past transgressions when the team hired him as an assistant in 2019.

“He’s an exceptionally sharp and talented person,” Stevens said. “I believe in Joe’s leadership.”

Stevens also said, “It shaped him into who he is today and in a good way. He’s 110% responsible for that. I believe in him.”

As the Celtics decided to name Mazzulla their interim head coach, team owner Wyc Grousbeck shared that the possibility of Stevens returning to his role as Boston head coach was briefly discussed, but the latter assured him, “Joe is the best choice to do it by a long shot.”

By the time Stevens moved to the front office to succeed Danny Ainge as the organization’s president of basketball operations, he was ready for a change for personal and professional reasons, with his new job allowing him to spend more time with his family than constantly stealing. out for road games. After eight seasons at the helm, the players were also ready for a new voice.

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As for Mazzulla, during the finale, Udoka shared what led him to keep the Rhode Island native when building his coaching staff.

“I spoke to everyone in the organization when I was hired, including the players, and he got rave reviews. I didn’t know much about him, but I take the players’ opinions. seriously, and he was a guy that was a consensus yes. Someone that they all worked closely with (and) believed in and understood his benefit. And so once I met him and Tony Dobbins, Evan, Brad , and some of the guys that we kept, I thought it was pretty easy (in) the conversations to see why.”

During the NBA Finals, Jayson Tatum spoke about Mazzulla’s growth as a coach and the bond the two have built.

“I love Joe. I think being around him for the last time, I think it’s his third year, maybe second or third year, you can tell how passionate he is about the guy and his craft. And he’s become so much more competent, and more detailed, and more vocal, and more comfortable in his role as a coach. You’ve seen the growth in his first year, and he’s helped me tremendously helped as a player and as a person. So (I) can’t say enough good things about Joe, and everyone appreciates what he brings to this team, and I’m glad we got him. ‘let’s have.’

With Mazzulla, Boston will rely not only on the core of the team, but also on assistant coaches like Damon Stoudamire, a former head coach at the University of the Pacific, and Ben Sullivan, who was an assistant with the Bucks when they won the NBA title in 2021.

“I really have faith in the team and the coaching staff who will be taking to the pitch on Tuesday,” Stevens said.

Boston could also add a veteran coach to its staff. Like Sports Illustrated Chris Mannix pointed out, Stevens has a long-standing relationship with Frank Vogel, who was head coach of the Lakers when they won the NBA title in the bubble in 2020.

Vogel began his career as the Celtics’ chief video coordinator, then joined Boston’s coaching staff as an assistant in 2001, spending three years in that role.

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