Joe Mazzulla brushed off his latest achievement, but Marcus Smart sees right through his head coach.
Mazzulla is set to coach in the upcoming NBA All-Star Game, an honor he received by the Celtics clinching the Eastern Conference’s best record ahead of Sunday’s cutoff date for determining the bench bosses for the star-studded showdown in Utah. It’s quite an accomplishment for the 34-year-old, who helped guide Boston through a chaotic couple of weeks right before the start of the 2022-23 season.
The Rhode Island native claimed the All-Star nod doesn’t mean much to him, but Smart doesn’t buy that for a second.
“(Expletive), (expletive), (expletive). It says a lot,” Smart told reporters Tuesday, per a clip shared by Boston Sports Journal’s Bobby Manning. “It’s just the humble mentality that we have. We got a lot of great guys from coaches and players that could sit here and boast about themselves and everything they’ve accomplished and things like that, but that’s not us. We love each other and we’ll let the outside noise do the talking for us. It definitely means something to Joe and it means a lot to us for him to do it. You know, Joe’s been through a lot. He stepped into a situation that wasn’t ideal for anybody and he strived and exceeded, I’m sure, a lot of expectations. So, we’re happy for him.”
Smart added: “He’s definitely pumped about it. I mean, first time being a head coach and you go to coach the All-Star Game. I don’t see how you can’t be excited, but that’s just Joe. He does a good job of really hiding his enthusiasm for certain things and then other times he lets you know. Like I said, we’re extremely proud of Joe and everything and how him and the rest of this coaching staff has responded to everything we’ve been through this season. We tip our hats to those guys.”
Mazzulla will travel to Salt Lake City with his Celtics coaching staff and Jayson Tatum, one of the 10 All-Star starters voted on by the fans. There’s also a chance Jaylen Brown joins the Boston contingent as a reserve player.