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Celtics’ Joe Mazzulla becomes fifth fastest NBA coach to 100-win milestone – NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics’ 136-86 blowout win over the Brooklyn Nets marks a milestone for head coach Joe Mazzulla, tying John Kundla of the Minneapolis Lakers back in 1950 as the fifth fastest head coach to reach 100 regular season wins.

Named interim head coach just days before the start of last season after the suspension of then-coach Ime Udoka, Mazzulla hit the ground running, leading Boston to a league-best 18-4 record through 2022. By Feb. 16, 2023, the Celtics made Mazzulla’s position permanent. He would continue on to lead Boston to a 57–25 record, securing the second seed in the Eastern Conference.

Fast forward to present day, the Celtics are having their way with the rest of the league, sitting atop the NBA’s standings with a 43-12 record. Combined with last season’s record, Mazzulla has led his Boston squad to a combined 100-37 record, giving the second-year coach the highest win percentage in league history (73 percent), surpassing long time great Phil Jackson (70.4 percent).

“Like I told the guys, I think it’s something to be proud of,” Mazzulla said following Wednesday night’s win. “It’s something to be grateful for, and it’s a testament to the people you have around you.”

Team over self is a practice Mazzulla has preached since taking the reins of the Celtics last season. Following his own lead, Mazzulla credited those around him for the early success he’s had in Boston. Without guys like Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown, could Mazzulla have won 100 games as quickly? Probably not. Could Boston have such a dominating record this season without Mazzulla teaching Tatum, Brown, and the rest of the Celtics roster to put the team first and the objective of winning over all personal accomplishments? Again, probably not. Mazzulla and the Celtics are putting on a clinic of how to play basketball the right way — as a team.

“In a business of where individual success is highly talked about on a nightly basis, to have a group of people that you can share in your success with is important,” Mazzulla added. “We can’t get to this point [without each other], but it really starts with the players.

“I always tell them that I can’t be who I am if they don’t let me, and I appreciate that — that’s a gift in coaching, to always be in a situation to where you don’t have empowerment or you don’t have guys that allow you to be yourself. That’s an important gift the players give me, and they give it to each other, I think that’s important for us to continue to grow in, so I’m grateful for that.”

The Celtics will now hit pause after going on a six-game win streak to enter the All-Star break, which will feature Tatum and Brown after snubs left Derrick White and Kristaps Porzingis sidelined. Brown will also represent Boston in the dunk contest for the first time since Gerald Green, who won it back in 2007.

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