4 things to know about Joe Mazzulla, interim replacement for Ime Udoka


Mazzulla was one of the coaches who remained with the team after the departure of Brad Stevens.

Joe Mazzulla will replace Ime Udoka on the Celtics sideline until his suspension ends, according to reports. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Celtics announced the suspension of Ime Udoka for the entire 2022-23 season on Thursday night, and assistant coach Joe Mazzulla would be about to have a big opportunity.

Udoka – who is under fire from the organization for his role in an “intimate and consensual” relationship with a team staff member – would not quit. Still, Mazzulla is expected to take over as interim head coach in his absence.

Here are four things to know about Mazzulla.

Mazzulla is also a former basketball star

Like Udoka, Mazzulla can draw on a wealth of playing experience. A Rhode Island native, Mazzulla attended Bishop Hendricken, where he was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2018. The Hawks have won three championships state over Mazzulla’s career, and he won third by burying a crucial jumper in the final seconds.

Mazzulla attended West Virginia, where he helped the Mountaineers win the NIT tournament as a rookie. As a sophomore, Mazzulla scored 13 points to help West Virginia to an upset win over Duke in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. He pursued overseas opportunities after college but never found a good candidate.

Mazzulla is a holdover from Brad Stevens

When Udoka arrived, he revamped the Celtics’ assistant coaching staff, letting longtime assistants like Jay Larranaga and Scott Morrison go while bringing in many newcomers, including Will Hardy, Damon Stoudamire, Aaron Miles and Ben Sullivan.

However, there were two survivors left: Tony Dobbins (who has a good relationship with Jaylen Brown) and Mazzulla. Mazzulla arrived in 2019 and immediately drew attention to his work with Celtics rookie Romeo Langford, whose shot needed work. Mazzulla taped a ping pong racket Langford’s hand in an effort to keep his thumb away from the ball. For the rest of the season, Mazzulla worked with and helped develop Langford. The 22-year-old guard was traded as part of the deal to acquire Derrick White last season, but Mazzulla remains with the team.

Mazzulla had legal problems in college

Mazzulla was charged three times in college. In 2008 he was charged with underage drinking and fighting with police at a Pirates game. In 2010, he was cited for public urination. In 2009, he allegedly grabbed a woman by the neck in a bar, which would have earned him a suspension. All three incidents allegedly involved alcohol, and Mazzulla’s father, Dan, later told the West Virginia Hours that her son was undergoing treatment.

In 2010, Dan Mazzulla – who died in April 2020 – told the New York Times that Mazzulla had been dealing with “mood swings and depression”.

“If you see me playing and the passion and the emotion that I play with, not being able to play for such a long time, I didn’t know where to release that,” Joe Mazzulla said at the time. “I couldn’t find an identity and I couldn’t find an outlet.”

Mazzulla has not been charged since these incidents. In March 2010, West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins told the New York Times that Mazzulla’s injuries devastated him emotionally.

“Joe struggled,” Huggins said. “He struggled a lot. For not knowing if you’re going to play again and go in and go through rehab, he was kinda fucked up. Anyone who cares as much as he cares about him would have.

Mazzulla has become a respected and experienced assistant

When the Jazz conducted their search for a coach to replace Quin Snyder this offseason, they interviewed two Celtics assistants: Will Hardy and Mazzulla. Hardy – considered a rising star in coaching circles – got the job, but new Jazz executive Danny Ainge took a close look at Mazzulla while he was in Boston and also brought him in for an interview. .

Mazzulla’s coaching experience began in the college ranks. His first job came as an assistant at Glenville State, an NCAA Division II school. Two years later, he joined Fairmont State as an assistant. After landing an assistant gig with the Maine Red Claws (now the Maine Celtics), Mazzulla returned to Fairmont State for the 2016-17 season as head coach, leading the school to a record 43- 17 over two seasons. In his sophomore year, he led the Falcons to the NCAA Division II Tournament.

Two years after Mazzulla joined Fairmont State, Brad Stevens brought him back on board as an assistant when Purdue hired Micah Shrewsberry as associate head coach.


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