Joe Mazzulla reflects on ‘responsibility' of coaching in Boston


BOSTON -- Joe Mazzulla grew up just an hour outside Boston, so the significance of Saturday isn't lost on him.

While April 15, 2023, marks the beginning of the Celtics' playoff journey as they host the Atlanta Hawks for Game 1 of their first-round series, it also marks the 10-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings, which left three dead and hundreds injured near the marathon finish line on April 15, 2013.

April 15 since has become One Boston Day and a symbol of the city's perseverance -- which Mazzulla paid homage to Saturday by wearing a custom blue-and-yellow One Boston shirt to his pregame press conference.

When asked why he wore the shirt and what coaching in Boston means to him, the Rhode Island native gave a thoughtful answer.

"I think it's an honor and a privilege to coach in this city," Mazzulla said. "It's one of the most well-rounded cities. It's a place that I love to be, and I think we have a responsibility to what's come before us -- not only in sports, but off the court, just areas that we can have a positive impact.

"This shirt represents that. It represents what the city has gone through and persevered (through), but also, I don't take for granted that I'm in a position to where I can help others and be a positive impact on others, and I think that's key."

Celtics players also wore "One Boston" warmups prior to tip-off of Game 1.

Mazzulla probably didn't envision himself in this position prior to the season, but when he took over as interim head coach following Ime Udoka's suspension, he embraced the challenge head-on.

While Mazzulla's first season as the NBA's youngest head coach at age 34 has been a learning process, he's clearly gained valuable perspective and understands his role as the public face of the Celtics.

He's also eager to started when the Celtics and Hawks tip Game 1 from TD Garden on Saturday afternoon.

"I'm excited because of what a series brings about: the mental toll, the emotional toll, the opportunity for adjustments," Mazzulla said. "I've been a part of a few since I've been in the league. ... I've seen the tug-of-war, so to speak, and I really like if-then scenarios and problem solving."

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