Joe Mazzulla gives credit to former Celtics after winning title

Boston Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla didn't just credit the 2024 team after Monday night's title win. The Boston Celtics organization often stresses the importance of 'family' when it comes to those in the organization, past and present. It's something current head coach Joe Mazzulla made a priority from the start of the 2023-2024 season, encouraging alumni to be around the team. When that season came to a championship end on Monday night in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, Mazzulla kept the message consistent. Through most of the Celtics' finals run, Mazzulla kept an intense and in-the-moment demeanor. As soon as the job was done though, one of his first answers was looking backwards. "It feels good," Mazzulla replied when asked how it felt to finally accomplish a goal he had been so focused on. Then, his attention immediately turned to previous Celtics. Jun 17, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) hugs head coach Joe Mazzulla late in the fourth quarter against the Dallas Mavericks in game five of 2024 NBA Finals at TD Garden. Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports "I think the most important thing, something that's really been going through my mind throughout this process, is you can't lose sight of the people that came before us," Mazzulla explained. "And I want to make sure every person that's worked for the Celtics, that's played for the Celtics that didn't win, knows that their work and what they have done has not gone unnoticed or it doesn't play a part in where we are at today." "It can be so easy when you work for this organization and you don't win that the work that people put in just gets brushed over or gets ignored. And when I first got here, the staff, you know, Brad [Stevens]'s coaching, the staff that they had, the foundation that they built with these guys when they were young, the foundation of what we have, is one of the reasons why we're here today," he continued. "So I think that's one of the first things that came to mind, was just because we won this doesn't mean what the people have done before us isn't just as important." From start to finish, the Celtics made this title season about the identity of the franchise. Al Horford even made a point to say postgame, "The first thing you have to do when you come here is you have to embrace that pressure...I was okay if we were getting criticized and we weren't getting it done because I understood what it means playing here. Finally overcoming that and winning and putting ourselves with the greats, this is special." That identity took on a bit of extra meaning during the Finals, facing former Celtic Kyrie Irving. Horford's comments, put in the context of an answer Irving gave before Game 5, could be seen as a direct rebuttal to his former teammate. It's impossible to say exactly how much of a role that focus on alumni played in the Celtics' pursuit of Banner 18. Yet from Mazzulla it was a concept present at the beginning and present at the end. Given the way the season went, it's probably not the last we hear of it either. Read more...

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