Who is Joe Mazzulla? Meet the Boston Celtics' interim head coach after Ime Udoka's suspension

·4 min read

The Boston Celtics have a new coach days before training camp is set to begin.

Joe Mazzulla will serve as the interim head coach for the Celtics after second-year coach Ime Udoka was suspended the entirety of the 2022-2023 season for "violations of team policies,” according to a statement released by the team Thursday.

Udoka had an consensual relationship with a female Celtics staffer, a person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the sensitive nature of the topic.

Mazzulla has served as an assistant coach for the Celtics since 2019, and will step in for Udoka effective immediately. Boston is coming off an Eastern Conference title and NBA Finals appearance where they lost to the Golden State Warriors.

Here's everything you need to know about Mazzulla.

SUSPENSION: Boston Celtics suspend coach Ime Udoka for 2022-23 season

IME UDOKA: Who is the Boston Celtics head coach suspended for the 2022-23 season?

Joe Mazzulla #21 of the West Virginia Mountaineers drives against the Clemson Tigers during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at St. Pete Times Forum on March 17, 2011 in Tampa, Florida.
Joe Mazzulla #21 of the West Virginia Mountaineers drives against the Clemson Tigers during the second round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at St. Pete Times Forum on March 17, 2011 in Tampa, Florida.

Who is Joe Mazzulla?

Mazzulla, 34, is a native to Johnston, Rhode Island. He is the son of Dan Mazzulla, who coached girls basketball at Johnston High School in their hometown.

Mazzulla won three state titles at Bishop Hendricken High School in Warwick, Rhode Island, and played four seasons at West Virginia University under head coaches John Beilein and Bob Huggins. The Mountaineers made four-straight men's NCAA tournament appearances during Mazzulla's collegiate career, including a Final Four run in 2010. He also won a Big East tournament championship and NIT tournament championship.

Mazzulla shares sons Michael Harden and Emmanuel Joseph Daniel Mazzulla with wife Camai.

Did Joe Mazzulla play in the NBA?

Mazzulla was undrafted in the 2011 NBA draft. He never played in the league.

What is Joe Mazzulla's coaching career?

Mazzulla started his coaching career as an assistant for the Glenville State University men's basketball team, a NCAA Division II program, for two seasons after graduating from WVU in 2011. He spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Fairmont State on Jerrod Calhoun’s staff. Mazzulla also spent a season as an assistant for the the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Gatorade League.

His first head coaching experience came in 2017 at Fairmont State University. In his two seasons as coach of the Fighting Falcons, he racked up a 43-17 record and took his team to the NCAA tournament once.

Mazzulla joined the Celtics' coaching staff as an assistant in 2019.

He interviewed for the Utah Jazz coaching job this summer, a position that ultimately went to Will Hardy — another of Udoka’s assistants in Boston last season.

Why was Joe Mazzulla arrested?

Following news of Mazzulla becoming the Celtics' interim coach, his past run-ins with the law began circulating on Twitter.

While playing at WVU, Mazzulla pleaded guilty to underage drinking and aggravated assault charges at a Pittsburgh Pirates game in 2008. A year later, Mazzulla was arrested on charges of domestic battery in a bar in Morgantown, West Virginia, where he allegedly grabbed a woman by her neck, according to a 2009 Times West Virginian newspaper article. Mazzulla was subsequently suspended by WVU coach Bob Huggins.

Brad Stevens, president of basketball operations for the Boston Celtics, addressed Mazzulla's previous arrests during a press conference held on Friday.

Stevens said he's known Mazzulla since he worked with the Maine Red Claws, the Celtics' NBA G League affiliate now called the Maine Celtics. Stevens said he "thoroughly" looked into the incidents before bringing Mazzulla on to the Celtics' staff.

"When we were considering hiring him as an assistant, I vetted that and the incidents when he was in college really thoroughly," Stevens told reporters. "I believe strongly in Joe’s sustenance as a person. He’ll tell you. He’s been very open with me about how those moments have impacted him in every which way and you can see in the way he carries himself."

Stevens said he's gotten to know Mazzulla personally over the years and believes the past incidents "probably shaped him into who he is today in a really, really good way."

"He'll be the first to tell you he’s 110% accountable for that," Stevens said. "I’ll be the first to tell you that I believe in him."

Contributing: Jeff Zillgitt, The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Joe Mazzulla is Boston Celtics' new coach after Ime Udoka suspension