Joe Mazzulla Says He ‘Always Believed’ He Would Become an NBA Head Coach

At just 34-years-old, Joe Mazzulla was thrown into the midst of a huge storm earlier this season in Boston after the controversy and suspension of former Celtics coach Ime Udoka. Celtics President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens called Mazzulla “the best person for the job.” So far, he seems to be correct. Mazzulla has a 20-5 record coaching the Celtics and has them sitting atop the Eastern Conference in first place.

Mazzulla has also earned the respect of the players on the Celtics roster, who have responded well and have been ‘all-in’ on their new coach.

“The thing I appreciated most was that he wasn’t going to try to be somebody he wasn’t because he was in a new role,” said Celtics star Jayson Tatum in a recent interview with Andscape. “He was very transparent. He said this was new for him, and it was going to be new for everybody. It wasn’t something that we were just going to move on and forget about. It was going be tough and a transition that everyone was going to be comfortable talking about.”

Mazzulla recently sat down to talk about his upbringing, coaching style, and how he prepared himself for his latest role as the head honcho of the Celtics. One of the first things everyone wanted to know was what was going through Mazzulla’s mind when he was first named to be Celtics interim coach;

“I’ve always had faith that I was going to be an NBA head coach,” answered Mazzulla. “I believed in myself, but I didn’t know it was going to happen this fast. I didn’t know it was going to happen in Boston. But I kind of felt it that it would happen at some point. At least, I had hope that it would.”

Given the Celtics’ rich championship-winning history and big-name head coaches of the past, Mazzulla was asked where his confidence came from;

“It’s developed over time. I think my dad and my mom, they had a huge influence on me as far as my mental preparation. As far as what’s your mindset on a daily basis, how do you navigate the world around you? And as a player, I wasn’t great. I thought I was a tough kid, but I didn’t have true mental toughness. I didn’t handle adversity well. I didn’t have great self-awareness. I didn’t have great self-management. I couldn’t self-regulate a lot. And so, when I got into coaching, I made a huge investment into that emotional intelligence and that mental preparation and how you navigate everything that’s going on around you. So, that’s helped.”

When asked if he felt any added pressure being the coach of such a historic franchise, Mazzulla responded by saying;

“There’s no real pressure. To me, you just have a responsibility. I have a responsibility to the Celtics, to the tradition, to the players, to the organization, the owners, to just do whatever you got to do to give this team and this organization the best chance to win another banner. And you just can’t stop until that happens. To me, it’s just a responsibility. And when I’m in moments of that, the only thing I can focus on is how do I execute. How do I just execute the next situation that I’m in?”

Mazzulla is definitely making the most of his opportunity right now and knows that whether he’s interim or coach in the NBA, either title can be taken away at any time. That being said, we should all be excited to see what Mazzulla and his Celtics do as the season progresses.