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Joe Mazzulla happy to notch first official win as HC in Bill Russell tribute night: ‘It was a proud moment’

AP Photo/Steven Senne

Taking the coaching throne of the Boston Celtics over the suspended Ime Udoka, Joe Mazzulla can’t ask for a better moment to write off his first official career win as a head coach.

The Celtics’ 2022-23 season opener came in special, as the night was added further significance considering that it was their first game tribute for the late great Bill Russell. The club fought their way and eventually grabbed the 126-117 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers at TD Garden.

For Mazzulla, the Russell-themed night is a highlight of his young coaching career and a helping hand to guide the title-contending Cs.

“It was a proud moment,” said the young Celtics coach in reference to the context of the night honoring franchise icon Russell. “I was talking to them about the legacy that he left on and off the court, and the responsibility we carry, and to be able to hold that and build our own legacy.”

“He means more than basketball. He leaves a legacy on the court, and he leaves a legacy off the court … I think that’s a great segue into the game tonight.”

The 34-year-old mentor can only tip his hat off to the energetic TD Garden faithful, showing its support as they start a potential run for that highly coveted banner No. 18.

“I pride myself in the Boston fans, and the city of Boston,” Mazzulla added. “When they are cheering for you, it means you are doing something right.”

To enjoy Mazzulla’s first win, the Celtics took a water bottle soaking ceremony inside their locker room. For the Celtics fans, they can only hope that this celebration will be followed up soon by champagne-filled title honoring.

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