Joe Mazzulla might not be taken aback by news of his NBA All-Star Game nod, yet that isn’t stopping the outpour of support from those behind him.
The Boston Celtics aren’t even a full season in with Mazzulla as the head honcho of their coaching staff, and the 34-year-old has already begun to flood his head-coaching resume in the NBA.
Through 51 games, Mazzulla has led Boston to maintain a league-best 36-15 record in a season where expectations are raised. Boston isn’t even a full calendar year removed from its NBA Finals appearance in 2022 and they’ve followed with an even more convincing campaign, which has rewarded Mazzulla with a debut appearance in the league’s annual All-Star Game on Feb. 19.
Mazzulla, a native of Rhode Island, spent his high school years playing for Bishop Hendricken High School under Jamal Gomes, who remains the head coach of the boy’s basketball team in 2023. Gomes was proud to hear the news that one of his former players would lead the team captained by two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
“He’s doing things the right way,” Gomes said, according to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. “What he’s done with the team this year as a first-year head coach in the NBA, and helping to keep them connected and working hard and improving is incredible. Obviously, there have been some ups and downs as there are anywhere, but he’s been able to help maintain a level of competitiveness that’s among the best in the NBA.”
Mazzulla has stepped in and provided the Celtics with more than they could ask for. While his promotion was both abrupt and under unfortunate circumstances for the organization, Mazzulla has helped the team maintain on track with its ultimate goal.
Granted, the Celtics are primed for top-of-the-league caliber success for years to come with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown leading the floor, however, Mazzulla has so far avoided a catastrophic year with plenty of setbacks in place. Not to mention, he’s done so with just a handful of assistant coaching years worth of experience at the professional level.
Gomes further spoke on his confidence in Mazzulla and emphasized his belief that there’s much more in store for the young interim head coach.
“It’s special, but I’m not surprised, not in the least,” Gomes said. “And I tell Joe all the time that the best is yet to come for him. He’s just getting started.”