Boston Celtics coach silences room with slam dunk response to race-baiting reporter

Boston Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla refused to engage in a moment of identity politics during a press conference over the weekend.

Instead of keeping questions about the Celtics’ plans for Game 2 of the NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks, Vince Goodwill of Yahoo Sports ventured into racial narratives when questioning Mazzulla who quickly shut him down.

In fact, the coach left the entire room in stunned silence after his response.

(Video Credit: CLNS Media Boston Sports Network)

“For the first time since 1975, the NBA Finals has a Black head coach on each sideline, with Dallas’ Jason Kidd facing off against Boston’s Joe Mazzulla. Al Attles (Golden State) and K.C. Jones (Washington) did it last in a series the Warriors won 4-0,” Goodwill wrote for Yahoo Sports. “Kidd and NBA commissioner Adam Silver both talked about the importance of the accomplishment and the symbolism it can represent for the forever-long struggle of Black coaches in these leadership positions and what it means to them personally.”

But his piece was aimed out of the gate at the coach’s “unwillingness to discuss race.”

During the press conference Saturday, Goodwill put the question to Mazzulla, who’s mixed race, about the significance of two black coaches in the NBA Finals.

“For the first time since 1975, this is the NBA Finals with two black head coaches. 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?” the reporter asked.

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

What followed was silence in the room, with no immediate follow-up question as the 35-year-old coach made it clear he would not engage in any race-baiting narrative.

In writing about the moment later, Goodwill noted that the awkward silence “could’ve been Mazzulla’s desired effect.”

However, the reporter still pressed what he saw as the all-important issue, noting, “Ignoring race in these matters isn’t progress, because it can infer that seeing someone as Black means something negative.”

“Boston has a sensitivity with race, and other blocs love to avoid any mention of race at all, so there’s a risk of Mazzulla’s words on this grand stage being co-opted in ways he didn’t intend. Not just for the religious right, but the bad actors who love jumping on statements like that to quiet conversations,” Goodwill wrote, with no evident self-awareness.

“Mazzulla has the right to embrace his religion, lean on it to help in his professional and personal walk. He has the right to look in the mirror and not see a Black man first, but a Christian man with strong beliefs,” he added. “But if he’s pulled over in Boston, the police will see his last name on his license, but before they find out anything else about him, they’ll see a Black man first.”

Mazzulla has been vocal about his faith, telling Sports Spectrum in April, “How I view God is going to be how I view myself. And how I view myself is how I’m going to treat other people.”

Social media users praised Mazzulla for shutting down the woke media during the press conference.

Frieda Powers


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