Thought Celtics coach/RI guy Joe Mazzulla was in over his head? How do you like him now?

Thinking out loud… while wondering if nothing is impossible, how do I manage to do nothing every day?

Johnston Joe Mazzulla, the one-time Hendricken Hawk, has taken his fair share of critiquing as coach of the Celtics this season, sure. When you have much, much is expected in return.

Does he have flaws? Of course. He’s 35. He’s learning. And he’s also had some brilliant moments against his counterparts in Miami, Cleveland, Indiana and Dallas this year. How you like him now?

Boston Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla speaks to the media during the 2024 NBA Finals Media Day at TD Garden on June 5.
Boston Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla speaks to the media during the 2024 NBA Finals Media Day at TD Garden on June 5.

∎ICYMI: Kyrie Irving is now 0-12 against the Celtics at TD Garden since his infamous ‘stomping’ on Lucky the Logo at midcourt, when he was playing in Brooklyn. Call it “Lucky Gets Even.” Just sayin’.

∎For my money – while Jaylen Brown has been MVP of late, the Celtics aren’t where they are without Jrue Holiday and Derrick White. Especially through that lost 21-point lead Wednesday. They have proven they can win without Kristaps Porzingis healthy… but could they have romped through the postseason without either of those two in the backcourt?

∎Speaking of Porzingis, with the latest injury that plagued him this week (his Curt Schilling moment?) I think of one word when I see him on the floor. Brittle.

∎And let’s give Jayson Tatum some credit – the shot wasn’t falling in Game Two. But his passing, rebounding and physicality was what was really required. It turned the series.

More: Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum quieting the doubters as they push Celtics to brink of NBA title

∎X post of the Week I, from @GlobeBobRyan: “For the record, Larry (Bird) shot 11-38 for 9 ppg in Games 3-4-5 of the ’81 Finals. But no one complained because he also had 13 reb and 8 ast per. So lay off Tatum, please…”

∎The ESPN/ABC halftime analysis? They spent more time in commercials than with commentary, constructive or otherwise. If a network switch happens, we’re all going to miss TNT’s studio team of Shaq, Ernie, Kenny the Jet and Sir Charles.

∎Loved Jerry West. When I joined the San Antonio Spurs in 1982, he was one of my first interviews. After I tried to speak with then-Lakers’ coach Pat Riley, who yelled “can someone else please help this young man out, he wants an interview!” West volunteered.

More: NBA great Jerry West wasn't just the logo. He was an ally for Black players

He was known as “The Logo,” with his silhouette used to create the actual NBA logo. But for those of a certain age, West (who passed away at age 86 this week) was way more than just a silhouette. He was a nightmare for his silky shot-making and smooth playmaking ability…hence his nicknames “Mr. Clutch,” and “Mr. Outside.”

Ask the New York Knicks about that from, say, the 1970 NBA Finals? Go YouTube it.

West’s Lakers usually came up short to Bill Russell and the Celtics. But he was a team exec during the “Showtime” era, when the team won five titles in the ‘80’s. He’s a Hall of Famer as a player and a coach… and will be inducted into Springfield for a third time as a ‘contributor to the game’ this fall.

∎But the Lake Show wasn’t enough to lure Dan Hurley, was it? When it comes right down to it, Hurley’s decision to remain head coach at UConn wasn’t much of a decision at all.

Certainly, there was some angst. Some family discussion, especially with his wife Andrea. And yes, with the Los Angeles Lakers, too. But knowing Coach Hurley as many of us ‘know’ him, his decision to stay to continue building upon the Huskies’ already blue-blooded foundation is true to who he is, and who we found him to be during his time at URI.

Coach. Builder. Creator. Loyal. Dedicated. Determined. Not brother Bobby. Chip on his shoulder. Always something to prove. And the New York Knicks’ job isn’t open yet.

∎X post of the Week II, from @NoEscalators: “In six years we went from ‘UConn lost a home game to conference opponent Tulsa’ to ‘the head coach of repeat national champion UConn weighing an offer to coach the Lakers for one of the highest coaching salaries ever…’”

∎Yeah, the Huskies and those who follow them need to enjoy this moment. It’s unlikely it – or anything close to it – will happen again anytime soon. College basketball is also a beneficiary, so is the Big East.

∎The chase for a John Wooden-esque three-peat is on. And the regional rivalry with Providence gains a whole ‘notha level of ‘can you top this?’

∎That PC Mohegan makeup we talked about not long ago? Dec. 14t in Uncasville, Conn., against long-ago rival St. Bonaventure, which should be a contender in the Atlantic-10.

Is it a Power 5 matchup? No, but PC didn’t have much sway in this since they stood up Mohegan Sun and the Hall of Fame to take the scheduling opportunity in the Bahamas. And what an opportunity. This is a win-win. Especially if you win.

∎Oh, and Late Night Madness at PC is scheduled for Oct. 1 at the AMP, featuring five-time Grammy Award winner Khalid. The game of “Can You Top This?” continues season to season.

∎The Athletic’s Andrew Marchand reported NBC and TNT may be adding the Big East to their TV inventories, along with Fox for the 2025-26 season. CBS is also still in the picture, but this would be a way for those channels/networks to work in their streaming partners (Peacock and Max) so they gain eyeballs.

Javonte Brown-Ferguson is coming to Rhode Island basketball next season.
Javonte Brown-Ferguson is coming to Rhode Island basketball next season.

Rhody’s Archie Miller plucked a big for the Rams, with ex-UConn 7-footer Javonte Brown (at W. Michigan last year) headed for Kingston. Miller also told College Chalktalk the Rams expect to have old rival Temple on the schedule for next season, and possibly also at a neutral site.

∎And I realize women’s basketball has got IT going on right now, largely due to the presence of Caitlin Clark playing in the WNBA. Their numbers are UP – attendance is up 156% over last year, arenas are filled to 94% capacity; TV games are tripling last year’s coverage.

Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark, during a June 10 game against the Connecticut Sun in Uncasville, Conn.
Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark, during a June 10 game against the Connecticut Sun in Uncasville, Conn.

But USA Basketball couldn’t figure out a way to include the ONE player casual fans care about for the Olympic team? Talk about short-sightedness. Or stupidity, take your pick. Sure, she’s a rookie, others are likely more deserving – but this is a missed chance to keep the casual fan, and summertime attention spans, squarely on women’s hoop.

Other WNBA players are jealous over the attention Clark is getting? Sad. And funny, since much of Mainstream America has been buzzing about her for several weeks. Which means… women’s pro hoops may be finding their niche in a very crowded marketplace, including the category “Spoiled, entitled, and egomaniacal professional athletes.”

∎An all-American week at Providence College, this past week that was. Two track athletes in Kimberly May and Shannon Flockhart earned 1st team all-American honors for their finishes in the NCAA 1500-meter finals…the 3rd A-A honors in each of their careers. Senior swimmer Will Leyden also nabbed A-A honors for his freestyle finishes.

∎We’re a week away (June 19-22) from one of the nation’s premier amateur golf tournaments teeing off again at Wannamoisett Country Club in Rumford – the Northeast Amateur, which is the second in a series of seven tournaments in the Elite Amateur Series and will include one of the strongest fields put together in the 62-year history of the event.

What is the Elite Amateur Series? Players earn points based on their finishes, which can then lead them to exemptions on the PGA Tour and into USGA events. Jackson Koivun and Gordon Sargent are two of the top amateurs in the world…and they should find a test on some of the slickest greens this side of the Amica Mutual Pavilion ice surface.

Not for nuthin’, but someone in that field at Wannamoisett could be the next Scottie Scheffler. His season thus far – even with the traffic kerfuffle at the PGA Championship – has seen him set a new single-season record in PGA Tour earnings for a 3rd straight year. And he has three months left in THIS season, with $24 million already in his bag.

Scheffler, you might recall, played in the Northeast Amateur four times from 2014-17, finishing third twice and fourth once.

TB12’s induction into the Patriots’ Hall of Fame this week at a sold-out Gillette was everything we thought his televised roast last month might be. A ton of great memories, stories, teammates and some tears…superb production and musical guests (Jay Z, Kenny Chesney) included.

If the Patriots can’t win on the field… they sure can win the pregame/halftime/post-career celebration shows.

∎Got this little nugget on Gillette – it has been rated the safest stadium in the NFL, in a survey put together by BetMassachusetts.com. Gillette presently holds the record for the lowest rate of violent crimes among all NFL stadiums.

That is, until they go 4-13 again.

Hope you’re not getting your hopes up. BetMassachusetts.com also sez the Patriots could come in UNDER 4.5 wins total for next season, based on last season’s performance. Hate the Drake? Love the Drake.

∎Speaking of the Drake, based on minicamp practice eyeballs, there’s a lot to like. But will it continue to be enough to put him in the line of fire when the season arrives? It should. Ride or die with the Drake.

∎Hey, did you see where the traveling, musical baseball act known as the Savannah Bananas sold out Fenway Park last week? More than 37,000 paid their way into the pahk for the show.

How come the Red Sox can’t sell out Fenway Park? They can’t provide a show, much less good baseball, every time out like the Bananas appear to do. Note to John Henry: Sell the team to someone who actually cares about winning and not-so-much about the portfolio investment first?

∎Did you know? The Red Sox are a .500 team since 2019, the year following their last championship. But how’s that investment coming along? Expenses are certainly low(er).

And fans still love to sing “Sweet Caroline,” so that’s gotta count for something, amiright?

Interested in having your questions on Rhode Island sports (and yes, that includes the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins, and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? Think out loud and send your questions, comments, and local stories to jrbroadcaster@gmail.com. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/threads right here! Join me on Twitter/X, @JRbroadcaster…on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke, and on Instagram and Threads @JRbroadcaster.

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Celtics success should quell criticism of coach Joe Mazzulla

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