Damon Stoudamire believed in Joe Mazzulla from the beginning.
Both Stoudamire and Mazzulla served as assistants for Ime Udoka before the ex-Boston Celtics head coach received a season-long suspension for violating team guidelines. Mazzulla was named the interim head coach and although the switch was sudden and just before the start of the 2022-23 NBA season, Stoudamire knew he was ready for the task at hand.
On a new episode of the Celtics Talk Podcast, Stoudamire -- now the head coach at Georgia Tech -- joined our Abby Chin for an exclusive 1-on-1 interview. The former C's assistant heaped praise on Mazzulla, who has since officially been named the 19th head coach in franchise history, and explained why he has been so successful in his new role.
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"Right after everything happened, me and Joe met," Stoudamire said. "Honestly, before he even talked, I just told him, I said, 'Without you saying one thing, it's my job to protect you, watch your back, and make sure that we all as a staff galvanize around you and make you as successful as you can possibly be.' ... I believed in Joe. I think Joe is one of the best coaches in the league. People put young behind his name, but he's beyond his years. I love him like a brother, and the sky's the limit. I can't tell you how happy I am for him."
What has made Mazzulla succeed as head coach this season?
"He's honest," Stoudamire answered. "I think that's the characteristic that he has that's made him. I think that he's organized, he's real meticulous, he knows what he wants to do. But at the same time he listens, he understands people's value. As a leader, he's easy to work for." ...
"Even when he felt he wasn't doing well, I was like, 'Man, you're fine.' I think that it wasn't an easy situation to take over," Stoudamire said. "There was a lot of unanswered questions both on the floor and off the floor and he did a great job. You can see watching him now how much more comfortable he is. And I told him as I left out the door, the one thing is just trust your instincts. I think that he's been really good and as long as he trusts his instincts, you can sleep at night."
You can hear the full interview with Stoudamire on the Celtics Talk Podcast.