After a stint as an assistant for what at the time was the Maine Red Claws to becoming the head coach of Fairmont State's men's basketball team, Joe Mazzulla returned to Boston in 2019 as an assistant on Brad Stevens' staff.
While Ime Udoka mostly brought in people he was close with as he shaped his coaching staff, Mazzulla impressed him and had backing from the locker room and members of the organization. For Udoka, the choice to keep him on board was easy.
And while Mazzulla being the one promoted to interim head coach could create an uncomfortable, untrustworthy dynamic, he spent a season building relationships with the rest of the staff. Furthermore, undermining him, to the team's detriment, isn't the best path for one of them to become a head coach. And that's without accounting for the character of these individuals and that it's a tactic they likely wouldn't employ even if it's in their best interest personally.
When asked about his reliance on the rest of the coaching staff, Mazzulla responded, "great staff; their character is great, their leadership, their communication. I try to ask them more questions before making decisions, (and) the great thing is we built a great dynamic on our staff last year. We all know each other's strengths and weaknesses very well, we all know how to communicate with each other, and they do a great job."
And when it comes to what Mazzulla's looking for from a staff that includes Damon Stoudamire, a former head coach at Pacific University, and Ben Sullivan, who was an assistant with the Bucks when they won the NBA title in 2021, he conveyed, "honesty. Where are we at, and where are we trying to get to; does this make sense? Is this what our team needs? They're all very, very smart, we're all very smart, and it's about, I have to listen to them, we just have to do it together."