As most of you know by now, Johnston native and Bishop Hendricken alum Joe Mazzulla was promoted to interim coach of the Boston Celtics after Ime Udoka was suspended for the upcoming season due to a …
As most of you know by now, Johnston native and Bishop Hendricken alum Joe Mazzulla was promoted to interim coach of the Boston Celtics after Ime Udoka was suspended for the upcoming season due to a breach of team policies.
This is a tremendous opportunity for Mazzulla, despite the circumstances, and a wonderful time to be a Rhode Island sports fan.
Mazzulla hails from arguably the state’s best-ever basketball family. His late father Dan, was a legend at nearby Bryant and went on to play professionally overseas. Joe played Division I ball in college, and his younger brother just played for the University of Vermont in March Madness. For the Mazzulla family, this is an incredible feather in the cap.
Since his college playing days, Joe has been a coach and has spent the last two seasons as an assistant for the Celtics. He also coached the Celtics’ summer league squad. From what I understand, the players think highly of him and he rose through the ranks pretty fast.
Now, this is his moment to really solidify himself in the world’s greatest league. Of course, he is a proven coach, but this is his chance to prove that he can lead an organization in the driver’s seat.
It’s not going to be easy. There is going to be controversy regarding the circumstances that will follow him and the team throughout the season. Unfortunately, he is going to have to answer a lot of questions about a situation that does not even involve him. He’s going to have to guide a young team that is heading into a season unlike any other … this type of controversy is unprecedented in the league.
In my opinion, any success he enjoys this year will be elevated even more because of this. Sure, in a perfect world, he would have gone through the standard procedure. See a job opening, apply, interview, get hired. But, it is what it is, and now is his chance to shine at just 34 years old. That’s what is also impressive about all of this, the organization has faith in him leading the way at such a young age.
Fortunately for Joe, he is inheriting a team that reached the finals and is returning much of the same core. He is also familiar with his players and I am sure much of this year will be about following the guidelines that Udoka set. Udoka, as of now, is expected to return the following season and has no intentions of resigning. Although Joe will have his own style and throw in a few wrinkles of his own, I’m sure, his ultimate goal will be to keep the momentum from last year and set the team up for success as best as he can.
My biggest takeaway though, is just how special of a moment this is for the Mazzulla family. To see one of its members be the head coach of the world’s most historic franchise … it is such an accomplishment and will bring the family legacy to the national spotlight. It’s a remarkable sports family that has had so much talent and success.
For Johnston, its favorite sports family is doing it proud. For Rhode Island, it is another member of the sports community that has gone on to do spectacular things. For the country’s smallest state, it sure is starting to make a name for itself on the national stage. Between professional baseball players, football players, NHL coaches, now NBA coaches, it is a great time to be a local sports fan.
I can’t wait to follow the Celtics this season as they look to get back to the big show and hopefully win it this time. The entire state will be in Joe’s corner.
The next item I wanted to touch on is Fans Only Sportz winning the bid to livestream all of Cranston’s high school sports. The RIIL will still hold the rights for playoffs, but will now allow Fans Only Sportz to handle the regular season.
Fans Only Sportz is a locally run operation that has become one of the top live streaming services in the state. The organization has numerous clients throughout Rhode Island and now secures another big collection in Cranston. It is run by local sports enthusiasts that all have broadcasting experience.
Before COVID especially, live streaming was really only popular at the college level. Obviously, professional sports are broadcasted far and wide. But since the pandemic, many sports fans have begun to rely on these streams at the local level and the audience has only grown in numbers, there is a hunger for live streaming like never before.
What is cool about Fans Only Sportz is that it’s a Rhode Island company, led by Rhode Islanders. There are a bunch of national brands like the NFHS network that do a fine job, but it just feels a little different with locals heading the operation.
The point that I am getting at here, is that I am all for live streaming and feel like we should all embrace it, and embrace companies like Fans Only Sportz. Imagine a world where every high school game was available for live streaming? That would allow family, friends, fans to tune in to every game. Think about football for example, late in the fall season, I always feel for the grandparents that are sitting there in the freezing cold to watch their grandkids play … or the families that have young children. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing families present to root on their own, but to have that flexibility would be tremendous.
It will be interesting moving forward to see how many more of these streaming services emerge, but I hope that one day high school sports are simply a click away from being on your screen.
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