The Celtics v. Maverick NBA finals is the first time since 1975 the championship game has seen two black head coaches square off, according to Fox News. Regarding that fact, during the NBA Celtics’ June 8 press conference, Yahoo Sports senior reporter Vincent Goodwill asked the following meandering question to head coach Joe Mazzulla:

“Given the plight sometimes of black head coaches in the NBA, do you think this is a significant moment? Do you take pride in this? How do you view this, or do you not see it at all?”

Mazzulla responded, “I wonder how many of those have been Christian coaches.”

The media’s response? Silence. Ten seconds of silence.

While Jason Kidd, the Mavericks’ head coach, along with Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner, both acknowledged the “notable moment” when asked similar questions, Mazzulla, was “dismissive.”

People around the nation have expressed support for Mazzulla’s answer, applauding his focus on faith over the color of his skin.

Having no experience in coaching an NBA team, when he first took an assistant coaching job in 2019, he carried himself with maturity and a respectful attitude that demanded admiration from others in his field.

Back in 2022, after a Celtics v. Heat game, Mazzulla was asked about the feeling of knowing the Prince and Princess of Wales, the “Royal Family,” were watching his team play that night in the arena.

He promptly responded in all seriousness, “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph? I’m only familiar with one royal family.” He then added, “Hopefully they’re Celtics fans.”

In a world that is fixated on anything but faith, Mazzulla made it a point to share that his faith comes first, the rest second.

Though a devout Catholic now, Mazzulla was arrested twice in college, both in 2008 and 2009. Mazzulla commented to CBS News that both incidents “happened at a time when he was directionless in life, and has shaped the man he is today.”

He continued, “I’m not the same person that I was… You have to find a foundation, and for me that’s my faith.”

Charles Thomas Studd famously said, “Only one life ‘twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

When someone knows who they are in Christ, this reality permeates their life. Their job, culture, and other fleeting things are put second. Christ must be first.

Mazzulla has commendably shown this not only in his NBA coaching career, but in his life.


Image from Getty.